Ring thumbnail 1
Ring thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Ring

1400-1500 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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'.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Engraved gold
Brief description
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.
Physical description
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'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 2.6cm
  • Depth: 1.1cm
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.)
Object history
ex Waterton Collection
Historical context
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.
Literary referenceThree Kings
Collection
Accession number
701-1871

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Record createdFebruary 16, 2006
Record URL
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