A Very Rare Medieval Cross Pendant
Russian, circa 1550
This large gilded silver and enamel eight pointed cross pendant is from the reign of Czar Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584).
In the 16th century, Russia didn’t have its own sources of silver and gold, precious metals were imported from Europe and were scarce and expensive.
It is rare to see medieval Russian crosses of this size and weight.
The cross is covered with a thick layer of gold and embellished with green and blue enamel in Byzantine tradition.
Unlike later 17th and 18th century Russian pectoral crosses, which are mostly very ornate, this restrained medieval cross looks surprisingly modern today.
Size – 62 x 40 mm ( 2 7/16 x 1 5/8 in.)
Weight – 27,4 g
Russian Orthodox cross is traditionally eight pointed as opposed to the four pointed Western cross.
The two additional bars at the top and bottom of the central beam of the cross make the cross eight pointed.
The bar on the upper arm of the cross, is the title board which Pilate ordered to be hung in mockery over Christ’s head.
The board was inscribed: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.
The lower bar is the foot brace. It is slanted to remind us that the Church likens the Cross to be a “balance-beam of righteousness.”
The left and right arms of the cross are engraved with Cyrillic abbreviation for
The lower arm of the cross is engraved with Mount Golgotha.