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Monogram of Christ (Chrismon)

Monogram of Christ (Chrismon)

500s

Gold sheet, gold wire, and garnets

Overall: 14.8 x 12.1 x 0.7 cm (5 13/16 x 4 3/4 x 1/4 in.)

Gift of Lillian M. Kern 1965.551

Fun Fact

This image combines chi (X) and rho (P), the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek. The materials also had symbolic meaning, from the kingly gold to the deep, blood red of the garnets evoking his sacrifice.

Description

The superimposed Greek letters chi and rho, the first two letters of Christ’s name, was a popular early Christian symbol. The monogram of Christ, or chrismon, is also a powerful symbol of imperial victory: it appeared to Emperor Constantine the Great before his battle against Maxentius in ad 312, promising victory in the name of Christ. Made of gold sheet and decorated with three garnets, it may have formed the center of a golden wreath, serving as a protective device and an emblem of Christian triumph.

See also
Collection: 
MED - Byzantine
Department: 
Medieval Art
Type of artwork: 
Metalwork

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