Precious Stones in Religious Objects

Use and Representation in the Early Medieval Latin West

Veronika Pichaničová
Collana: I libri di Viella. Arte / Studia Artium Mediaevalium Brunensia, 14
Pubblicazione: Gennaio 2024
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Edizione cartacea
pp. 184 + 48 tav. ill. col., 17x24 cm, bross.
ISBN: 9791254692110
€ 30,00 -5% € 28,50
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Precious stones have fascinated mankind for millennia. These glistening and colourful pieces of nature were centres of various legends and superstitions, used for healing and protection as well as signs of status and wealth. Since the dawn of Christianity, precious stones embarked on a journey where they were gradually cleansed from their Pagan past of being used as magical amulets and introduced into the world of Christian symbolism and allegory. They became ubiquitous on the most important sacred objects – from reliquaries and crosses to altars and ornate covers for the Holy Scriptures, they broadcasted the inner, spiritual value of these items through means that were easily understandable by everyone. Similarly, the visual prowess of precious stones was also utilized through mosaics or sparkling stained-glass windows, transforming entire sacred spaces into magnificent jewel-like visions of Heavenly Jerusalem. Whether real or represented in glass, precious stones were far more than mere decoration or a sign of profane wealth. As this book shows, at least for a moment they enabled medieval eyes to experience the vision of otherworldly beauty and preciousness, a true vision of the sacred.

  • Introduction. The Allure of Stones
  • 1. Status Quaestionis
    • 1. Encyclopaedic Approach
    • 2. Gradual Change
    • 3. From Iconography to Iconicity
    • 4. Conclusion
  • 2. A Matter of Attitude
    • 1. An Attitude towards the Matter
    • 2. Antique Lapidary Heritage
    • 3. The Precious Stones of the Bible
    • 4. From Antique Beliefs to Christian Virtues
    • 5. The Stones, the Saints, the Foundations
    • 6. Res Sacratae
    • 7. More Precious than Gemstones
    • 8. Expectations Versus Reality
    • 9. The Metamorphosis of Vision
  • 3. Use of Precious Stones in Religious Objects
    • 1. Reliquaries
    • 2. Crosses
    • 3. Books
    • 4. Treasuries as the Heavenly Jerusalem
    • 5. Divine Performance
    • 6. Conclusion. Deus Est Signatus in Lapides Pretiosi
  • 4. From Material to Representation
    • 1. The Church as Res Sacrata
    • 2. Mosaic Inscriptions
    • 3. Representations of Gemmed Friezes
    • 4. Thrones and Torches
    • 5. The Two Cities 122
    • 6. “Lux et Vitrum, Lux et Lapides”
    • 7. Windows to the Heavenly Vision
    • 8. Neither Here Nor There: Enamel
    • 9. Conclusion. Sacredness Captured in Glass
  • Conclusion. The Stones, the Glass, the Vision
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Places

In copertina: Precious stones from the Golden altar of Sant’Ambrogio (9th century); Milan, Sant’Ambrogio © Domenico Ventura (Collage by Veronika Pichaničová).

Veronika Pichaničová

Veronika Pichaničová is an assistant professor at the Department of Art History, Comenius University, Bratislava. Her research focuses on the usage of precious materials in medieval art in connection to medieval visuality and materiality.

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