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Pastoral staff head

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1310-1320 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory carved in high relief and openwork

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is an ivory head of a pastoral staff made in about 1310-1320, in France, Paris. It represents the Virgin and Child between two angels on one side and the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John on the other. The carving is of fine quality, the vine leaves precisley delineated and undercut and the figures carefully incorporated into the circular spaces on each side of the volute.

The name crozier is commonly used for the crook-shaped pastoral staff of a bishop or abbot. It forms part of their insignia. It was carried as a symbol of authority and pastoral care. It was made of various materials , but by the twelfth century ivory was in widespread use for the head of the crozier. The shaft was often made of wood, occasionally embellished with metal knops, although on Italian Gothic examples, ivory and bone cylinders were used in construction. French Gothic ivory crozier heads are predominantly of one design, with the Crucifixion and the Virgin and St John on one side and the Virgin and Child , flanked by candle-bearing angels, on the other. It appears that the principal face was that to be seen when the volute of the crozier was facing to the right.

Physical description

Head of a pastoral staff. On one side, the Virgin and Child between two angels, on the other, the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John. The pierced volute is carved with vine leaves and contains on one side the Crucifixion, with Christ on the cross between the Virgin and St John the Evangelist, who both stand on foliate consoles growing out from the inside of the volute. On the other side, carved back-to-back with the Crucifixion, is the seated Virgin, holding the stem of a flower in her right hand and supporting the Christ-Child with her left; he wears a long tunic and holds a small apple in his left hand. The Virgin and Child are flanked by two standing angels holding candlesticks (with no candle) who, like the Virgin and St John on the other side, stand on foliate consoles.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1310-1320 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Ivory carved in high relief and openwork


Height: 13 cm, Width: 11 cm

Object history note

Purchased from John Webb, London, in 1871 (£120); on loan to the Museum from 1867.

Descriptive line

Head of a crozier, ivory, representing the Virgin and Child and Crucifixion, France (Paris), ca. 1310-1320

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

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1870, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 30
Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 33
Stollberg-Rilinger, B., Puhle M., Götzmann, J., Althoff. G. (eds.). Spektakel der Macht. Rituale im Alten Europa 800-1800. (Spectacle of Power. Rituals in Old Europe 800-1800). WBG (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft), Darmstadt, 2008, pp. 88, 89
p. 128
Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872
I, pp. 271, 274; II, cat. no. 754; III, pl. CXXV
Koechlin, R., Les Ivoires gothiques français, 3 vols, Paris, 1924 (reprinted Paris 1968)
part 1, pp. 418-419
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part 1, pp. 418-419, cat. no. 146




Carving; High relief; Openwork

Subjects depicted

Angels; Flower; Apple; Cross; Candlestick


Accessories; Christianity; Religion; Sculpture; Ceremonial objects


Sculpture Collection

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