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Censer

  • Place of origin:

    Armenia (possibly, made)
    Syria (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    High relief gilt bronze

  • Credit Line:

    Dr W.L. Hildburgh Bequest

  • Museum number:

    M.506-1956

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 6B

This oil lamp comes from the Armenian church. The scenes in high relief depict major events in the life of Christ. They include the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple and the Crucifixion, with each scene separated by the Tree of Life.

The Annunciation scene illustrates the Gospel account in which the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Virgin Mary with the announcement that she would bear a son and his name would be Jesus. The Tree of Life occurs in a hymn for the Virgin Mary by the Armenian mystic Gregory of Narek (951–1003). Of the cross he writes, ‘Blessed are you, holy wood’ and ‘He is the wood of life for those who seek refuge in him’.

Physical description

Oil lamp, deep bowl shaped with three pierced lugs for suspension chains and low foot of truncated conical shape. Three brass chains. The lip and foot bordered by running engraved foliage with relief acanthus foliage below and above respectively. Relief scenes depicting major events in the life of Christ: the Annunciation, Nativity, Presentation and the Crucifixion.

Place of Origin

Armenia (possibly, made)
Syria (possibly, made)

Date

1600-1650 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

High relief gilt bronze

Dimensions

Height: 4.1 in, Depth: 5.7 in

Object history note

ex Hildburgh loan 5212

Historical context note

The Eastern Churches
The history of the church around and beyond the eastern Mediterranean is complex. The earliest eastern churches were established in Antioch, Alexandria and other cities in the 1st century. They were independent communities and theological controversy sharpened their differences.

In 330 Constantinople (now Istanbul) became the capital of the Roman empire. Successive bishops of Constantinople, later given the title of patriarch, gradually won authority over other eastern churches, despite the opposition of the pope. Churches that accepted the jurisdiction of the patriarch became known as Orthodox, but others, including those of Armenia and Ethiopia, developed along separate lines. Diversity of practice and doctrine in the eastern churches is reflected in the different kinds of regalia and sacred silver. Yet some forms such as the chalice are common to all, indicating a shared core of beliefs.

Descriptive line

Bronze, Armenia, ca.1600-50

Labels and date

Armenian Oil Lamp
This oil lamp comes from the Armenian church. The scenes in high relief depict major events in the life of Christ. They include the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple and the Crucifixion, with each scene separated by the Tree of Life.

The Annunciation scene illustrates the Gospel account in which the Archangel Gabriel greeted the Virgin Mary with the announcement that she would bear a son and his name would be Jesus. The Tree of Life occurs in a hymn for the Virgin Mary by the Armenian mystic Gregory of Narek (951-1003). Of the cross he writes, 'Blessed are you, holy wood' and 'He is the wood of life for those who seek refuge in him'.

Armenia, probably 1600-1700
Gilt bronze
Museum no.M.506-1956. Hildburgh Bequest [22/11/2005]

Materials

Bronze; Gold

Techniques

Relief; Casting

Categories

Religion; Metalwork; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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