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  • Place of origin:

    Italy (intaglio, made)

  • Date:

    3rd century (made)
    18th century (setting)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold and silver with a bloodstone intaglio

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Lt-Col. E. A. Belford

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The strange serpent footed creature with the head of a fowl carved on the bezel of this ring is a representation of the figure of Anguipes, often associated with 'gnostic' faiths. The modern term 'Gnostic' refers to a loose group of religions originating in the Middle East around Alexandria towards the beginning of the Christian era. Gnosticism was based on the duality between the imperfect material world and the perfection and light of the true, spiritual world. Although there were parallels between Christianity and gnostic faiths and some Gnostics may have considered themselves Christian, tensions with the organised Church led to accusations of heresy.

The figure of Anguipes, sometimes accompanied by the inscription ABRAXAS is often said to have been revered by Egyptian gnostic sects who saw him as the head of a group of 365 spiritual beings. The name is found engraved on gemstones and on the bezel of rings and has also been found in Egyptian and Greek magical texts. Wearing a ring with the figure of Anguipes may therefore have had a magical and amuletic purpose as well as a spiritual one. Some commentators have suggested that Anguipes was in fact an Egyptian solar deity and that the connection with gnosticism is false.

When this ring was bequeathed to the V&A in 1933, family history recorded that it had been taken from the abandoned personal baggage of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) after his defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1745 by the great-grandfather of the donor.

Physical description

Gold ring, the revolving silver bezel a bloodstone intaglio. Obverse: Frontal view of a cock-headed Anguipes in armour, head to right. Right hand stretched forward and holding a whip, left hand hid behind a round shield seen from the side. Both feet to the right. Letters on both sides of the figure: ια ω→ Ἰάω. Reverse: Nude female figure (Aphrodite) standing to front, with right hand lowered, and left hand covering her breast. Letters on two sides of the figure: ατι τα → unknown vox magica.

Place of Origin

Italy (intaglio, made)


3rd century (made)
18th century (setting)



Materials and Techniques

Gold and silver with a bloodstone intaglio

Marks and inscriptions




Height: 1.9 cm, Width: 2 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Object history note

Historical significance: Said to have been taken from the baggage of Prince Charles Edward Stuart at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 by the donor's great-grandfather

Descriptive line

Gold ring, the revolving silver bezel set with a magical bloodstone intaglio, on one side cock-headed Anguipes and on the reverse the figure of Aphrdite. The stone possibly Roman, 3rd century, the setting 18th century

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

Catalogued by the Campbell-Bonner magical gems database (classics.mfab.hu/talismans/cbd/2682 0), database ID CBd- 2684


Gold; Silver; Blood-stone

Subjects depicted



Jewellery; Metalwork; Royalty; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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