Situla (Bucket for Holy Water)

Date: 860–880

Geography: Made in northern France

Culture: Carolingian

Medium: Ivory with gilded copper-alloy mounts and foil inlays

Dimensions: Overall (with handle up): 8 5/16 x 6 1/16 x 5 1/8 in. (21.1 x 15.4 x 13 cm)
Overall (with handle down): 6 3/16 x 6 1/16 x 5 1/8 in. (15.7 x 15.4 x 13 cm)
Overall (vessel only): 5 3/4 x 5 1/16 in. (14.6 x 12.8 cm)
diameter of foot: 3 1/8 in. (8 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.45


Ivory holy-water buckets are exceptionally rare; this is the earliest of four known examples. They are used to dispense blessed water on the faithful during processionals. Here the entire surface is decorated with scenes from the life of Christ. On the lower register is the Annuciation to the Virgin, the Visitation of Elizabeth to the Virgin, the Nativity, the Dream of Joseph, and the Baptism of Christ. On the upper register is the Betrayal of Christ, the Flagellation, the Last Supper, the Ascension, the Holy Women at Christ's Tomb, and the Crucifixion.