Prior to 1929; possibly 19th century
Post-Byzantine, Greek, Orthodox
Silver, paper contents
Amulet: 2 7/16 ✕ 2 1/8 ✕ 5/16 in. (6.3 ✕ 5.5 ✕ 1.0 cm)
Chain: 22 ✕ 1/8 in. (56.0 ✕ 0.30 cm)
3.407 oz. (96.58 g)
3.291 oz. (93.3 g) - without contents
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Purchased by David P. Harris from The Old Drury in London on October 22, 1981. A card inside contains information for O. Marolla and Fils, located in Corfu, with a hand-written sale date of May 14th, 1929. The sale was likely to W. Straker, LTD, a London retail shop founded by William Straker in 1863. The company merged in 1960 to become Straker-Bedser. Straker began his career as a silver engraver/metalworker, meaning that the piece might have impressed him in quality for him to purchase it. Since the piece was in London prior to 1970, it does not fall under the 1970 UNESCO Standards. The US does currently have a bilateral agreement with Greece, meaning the US can import material originating in Greece. Greece ratified the 1970 convention in 1981, but has several laws that pre-date the 1970 convention with regards to ancient objects. With respect to my object, the laws might not apply if O. Marolla and Fils is the original maker of the object.
The silver is tarnished, particularly on the front, with additional darkening of the surface at the upper right corner of the back. The chain link connected to the right side loop is broken and can be detached. The amulet can be opened via the sliding lid, but requires force. Edges are worn down with slight scuffing. September 2022. - Mark Lang ('23)
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Ο ΓΙΟ CΠΙΡΙΔΟ = Ὁ [ἅ]γιο[ς] Σπυρίδω[ν] = Saint Spyridon
Brad Hostetler, with Ani Parnagian, "From Private to Public: The Collection of David P. Harris," in Ethiopian Objects in the Blick-Harris Study Collection: Art, Context, and the Persistence of Form, eds. Brad Hostetler, and Lynn Jones, Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 5–25. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/
This amulet, or chaimali as it is known in modern Greek, consists of a small square-shaped box suspended on a long chain. It features imagery on both sides and can be opened by a sliding lid at the top.
The front depicts the shrine of Saint Spyridon, located in Corfu, Greece. The surface is executed in repoussé, a technique where the metal is hammered from behind to create the image. The body of Saint Spyridon is centered within a domed aedicule; his eyes are closed and his left hand is placed over his body. Small flowers run on either side of the saint, with small vines connecting them. Candlesticks flank the shrine; they are supported by small raised bases. The edges of the amulet have a criss-cross pattern that appear as stitching lines and are noticeably raised to the touch.
The amulet includes imagery of the relics of the Crucifixion on the reverse side. A cross is positioned at the center atop a small hill, representing the hill of Calvary and recognizable to the viewer by the skull at the base. To the left is a spear, likely the one that pierced Christ’s side, and to the right is the sponge on a pole used to give him vinegar to drink. Around the depiction of the cross are six, eight petaled flowers, three on each side. The border on this side features a pattern of short curved lines alternating with stylized plants.
Mark Lang ('23) for ARHS 291 Museum Object (Fall 2022).