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Signet ring

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1300-1400 (made)
    3rd century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gold ring with a nielloed inscription and set with an onyx intaglio.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Joan Evans

  • Museum number:

    M.190-1975

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 5, shelf C, box 20

This fourteenth century ring combines a heraldic lion, probably used as a signet, with a Christian phrase. 'In manus tuas domine commendo spiritum meum' (Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, Luke 23:46), the words spoken by Jesus before his death on the Cross, are engraved around the hoop. Biblical phrases are frequently found upon jewellery, often intended to give the jewel a protective or amuletic function.

Religious phrases, sometimes combined with magical names and invocations, were written on parchment and worn as amulets or engraved on jewellery worn close to the body. They were believed to protect the wearer against both physical and spiritual dangers.

Physical description

Nielloed gold signet ring with an octagonal bezel set with an onyx intaglio of a lion rampant with the initial 'P' behind. The hoop inscribed in lombardic characters +IN MANUS: TUAS: DOMINE: COMENDO: SPIRITUM: MEUM.. The outer edges of the ring are decorated with a nielloed chevron pattern.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

1300-1400 (made)
3rd century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gold ring with a nielloed inscription and set with an onyx intaglio.

Marks and inscriptions

'+IN MANUS: TUAS: DOMINE: COMENDO: SPIRITUM: MEUM.'
'Into thy hand O Lord I commend my spirit'
Inscription in lombardic characters around the hoop. Initial P behind the bezel.

Dimensions

Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 2.2 cm, Depth: 1.3 cm

Object history note

Sidney Churchill Collection, acquired by Dame Joan Evans

Historical significance: 'In manus tuas domine commendo spiritum meum' was cited in a Roman Pontifical of the 13th century as a phrase to be used by a penitent as part of a rite of absolution. The phrase, an expression of surrender to the will of God, may have been paralleled in the feudal ceremony of commendation. (cf. Images and ideas in the Middle Ages:selected studies in history and art, vol 2, ed. Gerhart B. Ladner, 1893, p.225).

Descriptive line

Nielloed gold signet ring with an octagonal bezel set with an onyx intaglio of a lion rampant with the initial 'P' behind. The hoop inscribed in lombardic characters +IN MANUS: TUAS: DOMINE: COMENDO: SPIRITUM: MEUM. ('Into your hands O Lord, I commend my spirit'). Italy, 1300-1400.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, cat. 27
Ward, Anne; Cherry, John; Gere, Charlotte; Cartlidge, Barbara, The Ring, London, 1981, cat. 141

Materials

Gold; Onyx

Techniques

Engraving (incising); Intaglio; Niello

Subjects depicted

Lions (animals); Faith; Intaglios

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Religion; Christianity; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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