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Pendant - The Crucifixion and the Head of the Virgin

The Crucifixion and the Head of the Virgin

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Santiago de Compostela (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This jet depicts The Crucifixion and the Head of the Virgin and is made in Santiago de Compostela in ca. 1600-1700.
The prime function of jets seems to have been to signify that pilgrims had completed their journeys, and reached the shrine of St James (the patron Saint of Spain) at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which pilgrims did over the course of six hundred years, from the twelfth to the eighteenth century. Many seem to have formed beads of rosaries. In structure jet is a particularly dense type of coal, and can be carved and polished. Medicinal and indeed magical qualities were thought to be inherent in the substance from earliest times. Jet is found in different parts of Europe (as well as North America), but the two richest regions are the Asturias in northern Spain, and Whitby, Yorkshire, in North East England.
The pearled edge of teh present piece suggest that is may have been a bead for a rosary.

Physical description

The piece is damaged at the base and at the top, where a fixing may have been attached. The crucifixion figure is broadly depicted and the proportions of the body are highly distorted, with a shortened torso and elongated arms. A stylised skull is carved at the foot of the cross. The bust of the Virgin is shown in profile with a crescent moon at the base, and a stylized cherub beneath.

Place of Origin

Santiago de Compostela (made)


1600-1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 5 cm, Width: 2.9 cm

Object history note

Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1953. Acquired by him in Burgos before 1917.

Historical context note

The pearled edge suggest that is may have been a bead for a rosary.

Descriptive line

Pendant, rosary bead, jet, the Crucifixion and head of the Virgin, Spanish (Santiago de Compostela), about 1600-1700

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

Trusted, Marjorie. Spanish Sculpture. Catalogue of the Post-Medieval Spanish Sculpture in Wood, Terracotta, Alabaster, Marble, Stone, Lead and Jet in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1996, p. 147, cat. no. 75




Christianity; Death; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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