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Staff

Staff

  • Place of origin:

    Armenia (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver and silver-gilt

  • Museum number:

    M.343:1, 2-1903

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, room 83, case 6B

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An Armenian bishop or priest who holds the degree of doctor of theology carries a pastoral staff. It is formed with either a single or double serpent to signify the wisdom of the office. A full-length staff would be approximately 1.5 metres long and end with a tau cross, like the letter T.

Physical description

Pastoral staff of ebony with tau-head and mounts of silver parcel-gilt. Eight sided, decorated with strips of silver chased with a vine pattern, parcel gilt, and divided into sections by four oval knops, spirally fluted and chased with leaves. The tau head is formed of two scrolls with dragon/snake heads chased with foliated ornament. At the bottom of the shaft is a baluster shaped foot.

Place of Origin

Armenia (made)

Date

1600-1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Silver and silver-gilt

Dimensions

Length: 26.875 in, Width: 5.875 in

Object history note

Bought from Mons. K. Minassian, 15 Rue St. Lazare, Paris. £20. Received 28 March, 1903

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.

Exhibition History

The Eastern Churches (Sacred Silver and Stained Glass Galleries, the Victoria and Albert Museum 22/11/2005-22/11/2005)

Labels and date

Armenian Pastoral Staff
An Armenian bishop or priest who holds the degree of doctor of theology carries a pastoral staff. It is formed with either a single or double serpent to signify the wisdom of the office. A full-length staff would be approximately 1.5 metres long and end with a tau cross, like the letter T.

Armenia, staff 1500-1600, tau head and mounts
1700-1850. Ebony and silver-gilt
Museum no. 343-1903 [22/11/2005]

Materials

Silver; Silver gilt

Techniques

Chased

Categories

Metalwork; Religion; Christianity

Collection code

MET

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Qr_O108696
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