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

Ring

1200-1300 (made), around 1375 - 1425 (altered)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Gems have long been considered by all peoples as somehow magical because of their brilliance of colour and hardness, but other materials, such as teeth, also had magical properties.
This ring has the hoop engraved with two inscriptions, providing double the power; one a magic formula, the other a biblical phrase. The magical charm: ‘BURO + BERTO + BERNETO’ is to protect against toothache; the tooth set in the bezel may well have been expected to contribute to the prophylactic power of the words. The biblical phrase 'CONSUMMATUM + EST' are the last words Christ spoke on the Cross, and were used as a charm to calm storms.
As this ring is large, it is probably it belonged to a man, and as storms would endanger the wearer only when at sea, it has been suggested that a travelling merchant who undertook many sea voyages might be a possible candidate for ownership.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold; wolf's tooth
Brief Description
Gold ring, the heart-shaped bezel set with a wolf's tooth. A later black letter inscription inside the hoop reads Buro + Berto + Berneto + Consum[m]atum e[st], used as charms against toothache and to calm storms. England or France, 1200-1300, the inscription probably 1375-1425.
Physical Description
Ring, gold, wolf's tooth. The shoulders are decorated with stiff-leafed foliage moulded in high relief against a cross-hatched background. On each side of the ring are pierced pear-shaped holes within which there are small openwork crowns. The heart-shaped bezel is set with a wolf's tooth. Inside the hoop is a later inscription, engraved in black letter: + Buro + Berto + Berneto + Consum[m]atum e[st].
Dimensions
  • Height: 0.9cm
  • Width: 2.6cm
  • Depth: 2.8cm
  • Diameter: 2.1cm
Marks and Inscriptions
+ Buro + Berto + Berneto + Consum[m]atum e[st] (engraved inside the hoop; in black letter.)
Historical context
The inscription: ‘BURO + BERTO + BERNETO’ is a magical charm against toothache; the tooth set into the bezel may well have been expected to contribute to the prophylactic power of the words. The biblical phrase 'CONSUMMATUM + EST' are the last words Christ spoke on the Cross, and were was used as a charm to calm storms.This combination of charms is not, however, unusual, as other examples are known.

As this ring is large, it is probably it belonged to a man, and as storms would endanger the wearer only when at sea, it has been suggested by Sarah Bercusson that a travelling merchant could be a possible candidate for ownership.
Production
The later engraving around 1375 - 1425
Subject depicted
Summary
Gems have long been considered by all peoples as somehow magical because of their brilliance of colour and hardness, but other materials, such as teeth, also had magical properties.

This ring has the hoop engraved with two inscriptions, providing double the power; one a magic formula, the other a biblical phrase. The magical charm: ‘BURO + BERTO + BERNETO’ is to protect against toothache; the tooth set in the bezel may well have been expected to contribute to the prophylactic power of the words. The biblical phrase 'CONSUMMATUM + EST' are the last words Christ spoke on the Cross, and were used as a charm to calm storms.

As this ring is large, it is probably it belonged to a man, and as storms would endanger the wearer only when at sea, it has been suggested that a travelling merchant who undertook many sea voyages might be a possible candidate for ownership.
Bibliographic References
  • Alexander, Jonathan, and Paul Binski (eds.), Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England 1200-1400, London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1987.
  • Ward, A. et al, The Ring, London 1981, no 131.
  • Church, Rachel, Rings, London, V&A Publishing, 2011, p.22
Collection
Accession Number
816-1902

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record createdFebruary 17, 2006
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