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- Materials and Techniques:
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Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 6, shelf B, box 14
Gold ring, with a circular bezel engraved with an heraldic rose, subsequently scored with a cross. The hoop is inscribed outside in black lettering '+ihesus nasarenus rex ivdeorum.' and inside '+iaspar melchior baltasar'.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
'+ihesus nasarenus rex ivdeorum.'
Inscribed outside the hoop in black lettering.
'+iaspar melchior baltasar'
The names of the 'Three Kings' who gave gifts to Jesus at the Nativity, inscribed inside the hoop in black lettering.
Height: 2.5 cm, Width: 2.6 cm, Depth: 1.1 cm
Object history note
ex Waterton Collection
Historical context note
The scoring was presumably intended to cancel its use as a signet ring. The two inscriptions, used together, were believed to be a charm against cramp (epilepsy). Ihesus Nazarenus etc., used independently, was a precaution against sudden death. The names of the Magi, or the three Kings of Cologne, may be Mithraic in origin. Belief in their amuletic powers persisted after the passing of the Middle Ages.
The significance of Ihesus Nazarenus as a charm is explained in the The Revelations of the Monk of Evesham quoted by Joan Evans (1922, 128-9). A goldsmith in Purgatory declared that it was:
" a remedye against sudden death. Trewly and verily and the crysten pepulle wolde wryte dayly on her forhedys and aboute the placeys of her herte wyth her fynger or in any other wyse, these ii wordys that conteyneth the mysterye of the helthe and salvacyon of mankynde that ys to wytte and to says JESUS NAZARENUS"
The Holy Name was not only used on rings but also on brooches.
Gold ring, with a circular bezel engraved with an heraldic rose, subsequently scored with a cross, the hoop is inscribed outside in black lettering '+ihesus nasarenus rex ivdeorum.' and inside '+iaspar melchior baltasar', made in England, 1400-1500.
Jewellery; Metalwork; Amulets; Europeana Fashion Project