Head of a Crozier with a Serpent Devouring a Flower

Date: ca. 1200–1220

Geography: Made in Limoges, France

Culture: French

Medium: Copper: formed, engraved, chased, scraped, stippled, and gilt; champlevé enamel: medium and light blue, light green, yellow, red, and white; glass cabochons

Dimensions: Overall: 9 1/8 x 5 1/16 x 2 3/4 in. (23.1 x 12.8 x 7 cm)

Classification: Enamels-Champlevé

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.833a, b


As early as the sixth century, the pastoral staff, or crozier, conveyed the authority of a bishop, abbot, or abbess. The volute of this elegant example is in the form of a serpent grasping an enameled flower in its mouth. The volute's imagery resembles that found on other enamel croziers from Limoges. It alludes to the rod of Moses that, in the presence of Pharaoh, miraculously turned into a serpent at the command of God, and to the flowering rod of Aaron, symbol of his election to the priesthood by God (Exod. 7:9–12; Num. 17:6–8).