Reliquary Pendant with Hounds Coursing a Hare


On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 14

This reliquary pendant, which can easily fit in the palm of your hand, features gabled lancet windows on the front, and a lively engraving of hounds giving chase to a hare on the back. Precious and portable, wearable jewelry like this served as treasured talismans for their original owners. The inscriptions around the sides of the object reveal that the two windows on the front once framed relics of Saint Barbara and Saint George. Barbara offered protection to those who faced sudden and violent danger, especially from explosives or lightning, and George was especially venerated among soldiers, so the hunting theme of the back is less incongruous than it might first appear. Personal reliquaries like this, worn directly on the body, served as powerful amulets for medieval Christians.

Reliquary Pendant with Hounds Coursing a Hare, Silver, gilded silver, and niello, German

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