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Title: Ivories Ancient and Mediaeval
Author: Maskell, William Miles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    in the original text.
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_These Handbooks are reprints of the dissertations prefixed to the
large catalogues of the chief divisions of works of art in the Museum
at South Kensington; arranged and so far abridged as to bring each into
a portable shape. The Lords of the Committee of Council on Education
having determined on the publication of them, the editor trusts that
they will meet the purpose intended; namely, to be useful, not alone
for the collections at South Kensington, but for other collectors by
enabling the public at a trifling cost to understand something of the
history and character of the subjects treated of._

_The authorities referred to in each book are given in the large
catalogues; where will also be found detailed descriptions of the very
numerous examples in the South Kensington Museum._

                                                    W. M.
    _August, 1875._

M. (N^o. 218-65.)


                      ANCIENT AND MEDIÆVAL.

                         WILLIAM MASKELL.

                     WITH NUMEROUS WOODCUTS.


    _Published for the Committee of Council on Education_

                CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.



    IVORY CARVING. CIRCULAR MIRROR COVER. DATE 1300-1330.            74
    CROSIER IN CARVED IVORY AND GILT METAL.                          86
    HORN OR OLIPHANT. IVORY. BYZANTINE. 11^{TH} CENT.               114


    Prehistoric carving                                      9
    Esquimaux carving                                        9
    Prehistoric carving in relief                           10
        ”          ”    in outline                          11
        ”          ”    of the Mammoth                      11
    Angel; end of fourth century                            36
    Vase; end of sixth century                              46
    Book cover; Carlovingian                                49
    Panel of an English casket; eighth century              53
    Another panel of the same                               54
    St. Peter’s chair                                       56
    Spanish Moresque panel                                  57
    Coffer painted with medallions                          59
    Open-work; two small panels                             64
    Italian marriage coffer                                 64
    Part of a Predella, in bone                             66
    Cover of a box, with Morris Dancers                     68
    English comb; eleventh century                          70
    Italian comb; sixteenth century                         71
    Mirror case; fourteenth century                         74
    Another           ”       ”                             75
    Chessman; twelfth century                               80
        ”     thirteenth century                            81
    Arm of a chair; eleventh century                        82
    Two groups of chessmen, found in the island of Lewis    83
    The volute of a pastoral staff; thirteenth century      87
        ”      ”       ”   English; twelfth century         90
    One leaf of a diptych in very high relief;
          fourteenth century                               100
    Group, a Pietà; late fourteenth century                103
    Painter at work on a statuette                         105
    Chaplet and beads; and girdle, with ivory clasps       112
    Horn; fifteenth century                                113
    Two panels in open-work; fourteenth century            115
    Panel in minute open-work                              115
    Leaf of diptych, executed for bishop Grandison;
          fourteenth century                               117



Every description or account of Carvings in Ivory ought to include
similar carvings in bone, of which last many remarkable examples are
to be found in the South Kensington and other museums. The rarity and
value of ivory frequently obliged workmen to use the commoner and less
costly material.

In the strictest sense, no substance except the tusk of the elephant
presents the characteristic of true ivory, which, “now, according
to the best anatomists and physiologists, is restricted to that
modification of dentine or tooth substance which, in transverse
sections or fractures, shows lines of different colours or striæ
proceeding in the arc of a circle, and forming by their decussations
minute curvilinear lozenge-shaped spaces.” Upon this subject the reader
should consult a valuable paper, read by professor Owen, before the
Society of Arts, in 1856, and printed in their journal.

But, besides the elephant, other animals furnish what may also be
not improperly called ivory. Such as the walrus, the narwhal, and
the hippopotamus. The employment of walrus ivory has ceased among
southern European nations for a long time; and carvings in the tusks of
that animal are chiefly to be found among remains of the mediæval and
Carlovingian periods. In those ages it was largely used by nations of
Scandinavian origin and in England and Germany. The people of the north
were then unable to obtain and may not even have heard of the existence
of true elephant ivory. In quality and beauty of appearance walrus
ivory scarcely yields to that of the elephant.

Sir Frederick Madden tells us, in a communication published in the
Archæologia, that “in the reign of Alfred, about A.D. 890, Ohtere, the
Norwegian, visited England, and gave an account to the king of his
voyage in pursuit of these animals, chiefly on account of their teeth.
The author of the _Kongs-Skugg-sio_, or Speculum Regale (composed in
the 12th century), takes particular notice of the walrus and of its
teeth. Olaus Magnus, in the 15th century, tells us that sword-handles
were made from them; and, somewhat later, Olaus Wormius writes, ‘the
Icelanders are accustomed, during the long nights of winter, to cut out
various articles from these teeth. This is more particularly the case
in regard to chessmen.’” Olaus Wormius speaks in another place of rings
against the cramp, handles of swords, javelins, and knives.

There is still another kind of real ivory—the fossil ivory—which is
now extensively used in many countries, although it may be difficult
to decide whether it was known to the ancients or to mediæval carvers.
In prehistoric ages a true elephant, says professor Owen, “roamed in
countless herds over the temperate and northern parts of Europe, Asia,
and America.” This was the mammoth, the extinct _Elephas primigenius_.
The tusks of these animals are found in great quantities in the frozen
soil of Siberia, along the banks of the larger rivers. Almost the whole
of the ivory turner’s work in Russia is from Siberian fossil ivory,
and the story of the entire mammoth discovered about half a century
ago embedded in ice is well known to every one. Although commonly
called _fossil_, this ivory has not undergone the change usually
understood in connection with the term fossil, for their substance is
as well adapted for use as the ivory procured from living species.

With regard to the tusks of elephants, African and Asiatic ivory must
be distinguished. The first, “when recently cut, is of a mellow, warm,
transparent tint, with scarcely any appearance of grain, in which
state it is called _transparent_ or _green_ ivory; but, as the oil
dries up by exposure to the air, it becomes lighter in colour. Asiatic
ivory, when newly cut, appears more like the African, which has been
long exposed to the air, and tends to become yellow by exposure. The
African variety has usually a closer texture, works harder, and takes a
better polish than the Asiatic.” It would be mere guessing to attempt
to decide the original nature of ancient or mediæval ivories. Time has
equally hardened and changed the colour of both kinds, whether African
or Asiatic.

We cannot easily suggest any way in which the very large slabs or
plaques of ivory used by the early and mediæval artists were obtained.
The leaves of a diptych of the seventh century, in the public library
at Paris, are fifteen inches in length by nearly six inches wide. In
the British museum is a single piece which measures in length sixteen
inches and a quarter by more than five inches and a half in width,
and in depth more than half an inch. By some it is thought that the
ancients knew a method, which has been lost, of bending, softening,
and flattening solid pieces of ivory; others suppose that they were
then able to procure larger tusks than can be got from the degenerate
animal of our own day. Mr. McCulloch, in his dictionary of commerce,
tells us that 60 lbs. is the average weight of an elephant’s tusk; but
Holtzapffel, a practical authority, declares this to be far too high,
and that 15 or 16 lbs. would be nearer the average. Be this as it may,
pieces of the size above mentioned (and larger specimens probably
exist) could not be cut from the biggest of the tusks preserved in
the South Kensington museum; although it weighs 90 lbs., is eight feet
eleven inches long, and sixteen inches and a half in circumference at
the centre. This tusk is the largest of five which were presented to
the Queen by the king of Shoa about the year 1856, and given by Her
Majesty to the museum. The other four weigh, respectively, 76 lbs.,
86 lbs., 72 lbs., and 52 lbs. They are all, probably, male tusks. An
enormous pair of tusks, weighing together 325 lbs., was shown in the
Great Exhibition of 1851; but these, heavy as they were, measured only
eight feet six inches in length, and did not exceed twenty-two inches
in circumference at the base.

An ingenious mode of explaining how the great chryselephantine statues
of Phidias and other Greek sculptors were made, is proposed and
fully explained in detail by Quatremère De Quincy in his work on the
art of antique sculpture. He gives several plates in illustration,
more particularly Plate XXIX.; but none of them meet the difficulty
of the large flat plaques. The natural form of a tusk would adapt
itself easily, so far as regards the application of pieces of very
considerable size, to the round parts of the human figure.

Mr. Hendrie, in his notes to the third book of the “Schedula diversarum
artium” of Theophilus, says that the ancients had a method of softening
and bending ivory by immersion in different solutions of salts in
acid. “Eraclius has a chapter on this. Take sulphate of potass, fossil
salt, and vitriol; these are ground with very sharp vinegar in a brass
mortar. Into this mixture the ivory is placed for three days and
nights. This being done, you will hollow out a piece of wood as you
please. The ivory being thus placed in the hollow you direct it, and
will bend it to your will.” The same writer gives another recipe from
the Sloane manuscript (of 15th century), no. 416. This directs that the
ingredients above mentioned “are to be distilled in equal parts, which
would yield muriatic acid, with the presence of water. Infused in this
water half a day, ivory can be made so soft that it can be cut like
wax. And when you wish it hardened, place it in white vinegar and it
becomes hard.”

Sir Digby Wyatt, in a lecture read before the Arundel society, quotes
these methods from Mr. Hendrie and adds another from an English
manuscript of the 12th century: “Place the ivory in the following
mixture. Take two parts of quick lime, one part of pounded tile, one
part of oil, and one part of torn tow. Mix up all these with a lye made
of elm bark.” These various recipes have been tried in modern days, and
the experiments, hitherto, have completely failed.

Considerable variety of colour will be observed in the various pieces
of any large collection, and much difference in the condition of
them. Some, far from being the most ancient, are greatly discoloured
and brittle in appearance; others retain their colour almost in its
original purity and their perfect firmness of texture, seemingly
unaffected by the long lapse of time. The innumerable possible
accidents to which carved ivories may have been exposed from age to
age will account for this great difference, and a happy forgetfulness,
perhaps owing to a contemptuous neglect at first of their value and
importance, may have been the cause of the comparatively excellent
state and condition of many. Laid aside in treasuries of churches and
monasteries, or put away in the chests and cupboards of great houses,
the memory even of their existence may have passed away for century
after century.

It does not appear that any good method is known by which a discoloured
ivory can be bleached. All rough usage of course merely injures the
piece itself, and removes the external surface. Exposure to the light
keeps the original whiteness longer, and in a few instances may to some
extent restore it. It need hardly be observed that any other attempt to
alter the existing condition, whatever it may be, as regards the colour
of an antique or mediæval ivory is to be condemned.

It is quite a different matter to endeavour to preserve works in ivory
which have suffered partial decomposition, and which can be kept from
utter destruction only by some kind of artificial treatment. Almost
all the fragments sent to England by Mr. Layard from Nineveh were in
this state of extreme fragility and decay. Professor Owen suggested
that they should be boiled in a solution of gelatine. The experiment
was tried and found to be sufficiently effectual; and it is to be hoped
that the present success will prove to be lasting. “Since the fragments
have been in England,” says Mr. Layard, “they have been admirably
restored and cleaned. The glutinous matter, by which the particles
forming the ivory are kept together, had, from the decay of centuries,
been completely exhausted. By an ingenious process it has been
restored, and the ornaments, which on their discovery fell to pieces
almost upon mere exposure to the air, have regained the appearance and
consistency of recent ivory, and may be handled without risk of injury.”

We may think it to be sufficiently strange in tracing the early
history of the art of carving or engraving in ivory, that we should
be able easily to carry it, upon the evidence of extant examples, to
an antiquity long before the Christian era: through the Roman, Greek,
Assyrian, and Jewish people, up to an age anterior to the origin of
those nations by centuries, the number of which it may be difficult
accurately to count. These very ancient examples are of the earliest
Egyptian dynasties: yet, between them and the date of the earliest now
known specimens of works of art incised or carved in ivory there is a
lapse of time so great that it may probably be numbered by thousands of

We must go back to prehistoric man for the proof of this; to a
period earlier than the age of iron or of bronze; to the first—the
drift—period of the stone age. We must go back, as Sir John Lubbock
writes, “to a time so remote that the reindeer was abundant in the
south of France, and probably even the mammoth had not entirely
disappeared.” Lartet and Christy also (in their valuable publication,
the Reliquiæ Aquitanicæ) make a like remark: “It rests with the
geologist, by indicating the changes which have occurred in the very
land itself, to shadow out the period in the dim distance of that far
antiquity when these implements, the undoubted work of human hands,
were used and left there by primæval man.”

Within the last few years, in caves at Le Moustier and at La Madelaine
in the Dordogne, numerous fragments have been found of tusks of the
mammoth and of reindeer’s bone and horn, on some of which are incised
drawings of various animals, and upon others similar representations
carved in low relief. These objects have been engraved in several
works by geologists and writers upon the important questions relating
to prehistoric people; and copies of them may be found in Sir John
Lubbock’s book, “The origin of Civilization,” already quoted from.
Among them are drawings and carvings of fish, of a snake, of an ibex,
of a man carrying a spear, of a mammoth, of horses’ heads, and of a
group of reindeer.

Sir John Lubbock describes these works as showing “really considerable
skill;” as “being very fair drawings;” as the productions of men to
whom we must give “full credit for their love of art, such as it was.”
But to speak of them in words so cold is less than justice. No one can
examine the few fragments which as yet have been discovered without
acknowledging their merit, and attributing them to what may very truly
be called the hand of an artist. There can be no mistake for a moment
as to many of the beasts which are represented.

Again: the sculptor has given us, in a spirited and natural manner,
more than one characteristic quality of his subject: and we can
recognise the heaviness and sluggishness of the mammoth as easily as
the grace and activity of the reindeer. The results of the workman’s
labour are not like the elephants and camels and lions of a child’s
Noah’s ark—merely bodies with heads and four legs—but they are executed
with the right feeling and in an artistic spirit: the animals are
carefully drawn, and often with much vigour. There is nothing
conventional about them; they are far beyond and utterly different in
style from the ugly attempts of really civilised people, such as the
Peruvians or Mexicans, to say nothing of the works of the savages of
Africa or New Zealand. They are true to nature.

The aboriginal nations of North and South America must certainly be
spoken of as civilised, though it is curious to remember how great
authorities seem to differ as to what civilisation means. Macaulay, in
his Life of lord Clive, writing with a recklessness of statement not
unusual with him when aiming at some picturesque contrast, describes
the ancient Mexicans as “savages who had no letters, who were ignorant
of the use of metals, who had not broken in a single animal to labour,
and who wielded no better weapons than those which could be made out
of sticks, flints, and fishbones, and who regarded a horse-soldier
as a monster.” But Bernal Diaz, whose report as an eye-witness has
stood the test of years of later investigation and dispute, describes
the appearance of the great cities from without as like the enchanted
castles of romance, and full of great towers and temples. And within,
“every kind of eatable, every form of dress, medicines, perfumes,
unguents, furniture, lead, copper, gold, and silver ornaments wrought
in the form of fruit, adorned the porticoes and allured the passer-by.
Paper, that great material of civilisation, was to be obtained in this
wonderful emporium; also every kind of earthenware, cotton of all
colours in skeins, &c. There were officers who went continually about
the market-place, watching what was sold, and the measures which were

If we are to take the judgment of Lord Macaulay as our guide in
determining what may be true civilisation, we must set down the
Greeks in the reign of Alexander, or the Italians in the days of Leo
the tenth, as “savages,” because they were ignorant of the electric
telegraph; or ourselves now, because we cannot guide balloons through
the air.

The sculptures and works of art in the ruined cities of Yucatan are
also to be thought of. Many engravings of them are given in Stephens’s
central America.

Nor is it enough to say that the prehistoric carvings are merely true
to nature. Their merit is clearly seen when compared with the plates of
Indian drawings and picture writings in Schoolcraft’s history of the
Indian tribes of the United States: or again, of a different character
altogether, the illuminations in Indian and Persian manuscripts.
In some respects these last are of the highest quality as regards
execution, but the animals are generally drawn in a manner purely
conventional, with scant feeling of truth or beauty, and little power
of expressing it.


In short, the prehistoric carvings are from the hands of men who were
neither beginners nor blunderers in their art. The practised skill of
a modern wood engraver would scarcely exceed in firmness and decision,
nor in evident rapidity of execution, the outline of the animals in the
example which is here engraved.


Other illustrations are given in order that the reader may compare
them, and more especially those also just referred to above, with a
woodcut (on preceding page) of drawings incised upon bone by Esquimaux
of our own days. This has been chosen because there seems to be a
general disposition, in the way of theory, to compare the dwellers in
the caves of Dordogne and the men of the stone age with the Esquimaux,
and to limit, as it were, the unknown amount of civilisation in the one
by what we have learnt from our own experience of the latter. Yet, so
far as the drawings and the sculptures are concerned, there is scarcely
room for comparison. The work of the stone age is that of a people with
whom, if they were in all other respects savages, we have no modern
parallel. The work of the Esquimaux is that of men who imitate with the
hand of a child, and the success or power of whose imitation ranges
exactly with their advance and culture (if culture it may be called) in
other arts.


The first of these illustrations is perhaps the best, as it is
certainly the most delicate and graceful of all the fragments yet
discovered. It represents the profile of the head and shoulder of an
ibex, carved in low relief upon a piece of the palm of a reindeer’s
antler. So exact and well characterised is the sculpture, that
naturalists have no hesitation in deciding the animal to be an ibex of
the Alps, and not of the Pyrenees.

The next is a group of reindeer drawn upon a piece of slate.

And lower down the page, incised upon a piece of mammoth ivory, are
outlines of the mammoth itself. The original, rather more than nine
inches in length, is at Paris in the museum of the Jardin des plantes.



There is no discovery with respect to primæval man—his powers and
capabilities, his possible enjoyments and appreciation of the
beautiful, his certain infinite elevation as a reasonable being above
the beasts of the field, in the most distant age and period to which
his existence has been traced,—so full of interest, so full as yet of
unfathomed mystery, as these wonderful works in ivory and bone. It can
scarcely be supposed that, by a happy accident, we have lighted on the
only specimens which were ever executed of such great merit; or that
there were some two or three men only who for a brief time in the stone
age, by a sort of miracle, were able to produce work so excellent.
Further researches and a few more fortunate “finds” may enable us to
learn much more than we now know of other habits, and the state of
(what we call) the barbarism of those ancient races in other respects.
Nor must we forget that for numberless generations after these men had
passed away their descendants lost all the old power and skill. “Dark
ages” came, similar (although incomparably longer in duration) to those
which followed Greek or Roman civilisation and science from the sixth
to the ninth and tenth centuries after Christ. Again quoting Sir John
Lubbock, we know that “no representation, however rude, of any animal
has yet been found in any of the Danish shell mounds. Even on objects
of the bronze age they are so rare that it is doubtful whether a single
well-authenticated instance could be produced.” “Even curved lines”
upon the rude and coarse pieces of pottery of later ages “are rare.”
Once more: “Very few indeed of the British sepulchral urns, belonging
to ante-Roman times, have upon them any curved lines. Representations
of animals are also almost entirely wanting.”

Further discussion and speculation upon this subject would here be out
of place. We must leave it, although with great regret. We must pass at
one bound to a later period of time which, however long ago it may seem
to us looking back upon it, is nevertheless, in comparison with the
supposed date of the men who left their ivory and bone carvings in the
caves of Aquitaine, positively modern.


Although the narrative of the sacred Scriptures does not, with the
exception of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, reach back so far as
the known history of the kingdom of Egypt, it may be best to mention,
first, some places in the Old Testament in which reference is made to
works in ivory.

King Solomon, we are told, “made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid
it with the best gold.” “The ivory house which Ahab made,” is
particularly mentioned among his memorable acts. The Psalmist speaks
of garments brought “out of ivory palaces,” or from what may rather be
translated wardrobes. The original text is ‏ﬤﬢﬣיﬤﬥישׁן‎. In the earlier
Hebrew the word ‏ﬣיﬤﬥ‎ meant a small house or palace; in the later,—and
the 45th Psalm is not of early date, and was moreover written in a
foreign country,—it meant more commonly a wardrobe, or what we now call
a vestry or sacristy. The prophets Ezekiel and Amos tell us of “benches
of ivory brought out of the isles of Chittim,” of “horns of ivory,” and
of “beds of ivory.” There are other evidences in the Bible of the value
and high estimation in which ivory was held by the Jews; and its beauty
of appearance, its brightness, and smoothness are used as poetical
illustrations in the Song of Solomon. From a verse in the fifth chapter
of this last book we also learn that the ivory was sometimes inlaid
with precious stones.

It is quite evident that in those days works in ivory were regarded in
Judæa as a possession only to be acquired by very great and wealthy
persons; nor may it be too much, perhaps, to say that they were looked
upon as insignia of royalty. We may entirely agree with De Quincy, in
his book upon the statue of Jupiter at Olympia: “L’ivoire constitua
les ornaments distinctifs de la dignité royale chez les plus anciens
peuples. L’antiquité ne parle que de sceptres et de trônes d’ivoire.
Tels étaient selon Denis d’Halicarnasse les attributs de la royauté
chez les Étrusques. A leur exemple, Tarquin eut le trône et le sceptre
d’ivoire, &c.”

But, as has been already observed, there are specimens and remains of
Egyptian works in ivory still existing which date by many centuries
from an earlier time than the days of Solomon or Ahab. These must be,
of course, of excessive rarity: partly because of their antiquity and
fragile nature; partly because of the smallness of their size, owing
to which they must have been frequently overlooked or thrown aside.
The collection in the British museum includes some examples, a few of
which, particularly two daggers inlaid and ornamented with ivory, are
of the time of Moses, about 1,800 years before Christ. Several chairs,
ornamented in a like manner, may be attributed to the sixteenth century
B.C. Some woodcuts are given of chairs and stools ornamented with
ivory, in Sir Gardner Wilkinson’s account of the ancient Egyptians.

Among the Egyptian antiquities in the British museum may also be
mentioned the handle of a mirror in hippopotamus ivory; an ivory
palette of about the same period; two ivory boxes, in the shape of
water fowl; and a very remarkable figure or statuette, a woman, of
perhaps the eleventh century B.C.; and, again, a very curious casket of
considerable size but of much later date; probably of the first century
of the Christian æra: Roman work and decoration. This was found at
Memphis, and is made of ivory plaques laid upon a framework of wood.
The plaques are incised with figures and coloured. The shape is oblong,
with a sloping cover; it measures about twelve by ten inches.

The use of ivory for ornament and the adapting it to works of art must
have been known by the Egyptians from a most remote antiquity. There
is a small ivory box in the Louvre, which is inscribed with a prænomen
attributed to the fifth dynasty. Labarte, quoting De Rougé, mentions
another of the sixth dynasty:—“On voit au musée Égyptien du Louvre
une quantité d’objets d’os et d’ivoire. Ce sont de petits vases, des
objets de toilette, des cuillers dont le manche est formé par une femme
nue, et une boîte ornée d’une belle tête de gazelle. La pièce la plus
curieuse est une autre boîte d’ivoire très-simple, mais d’une excessive
antiquité, puisqu’elle porte la légende royale de Merien-ra, qui est
placé vers la sixième dynastie.” Dr. Birch in a paper printed among the
transactions of the Royal society, on two Egyptian cartouches found at
Nimroud, refers to a tablet of the twelfth dynasty, which describes a
figure whose “arms are to be made of precious stones, silver and gold,
and the two hinder parts of ivory and ebony. In a tomb at Thebes record
is made of a statue composed of ebony and ivory, with a collar of gold.”

The date of the Egyptian statuette in the British museum and of
numerous smaller objects in that and in the great foreign collections,
such as spoons, bracelets, collars, boxes, &c., most of which are
earlier than the twenty-fourth dynasty and long before the time of
Cambyses, brings us to about the same period as the famous Assyrian
ivories, which were found at Nineveh, and which are also preserved in
the British museum.

These were chiefly discovered in the north-west palace; and almost all
in two chambers of that building. We cannot do better than listen to
the general description of them given by Mr. Layard himself:—“The most
interesting are the remains of two small tablets, one nearly entire,
the other much injured. Upon them are represented two sitting figures,
holding in one hand the Egyptian sceptre or symbol of power. Between
them is a cartouche containing hieroglyphics, and surmounted by a
plume, such as is found in monuments of the eighteenth and subsequent
dynasties of Egypt. The chairs on which the figures are seated, the
robes of the figures themselves, the hieroglyphics and the feather
above, were enamelled with a blue substance let into the ivory, and the
whole ground of the tablet, as well as the cartouche and part of the
figures, was originally gilded,—remains of the gold leaf still adhering
to them. The forms and style of art have a purely Egyptian character,
although there are certain peculiarities in the execution and mode
of treatment that would seem to mark the work of a foreign, perhaps
an Assyrian, artist. The same peculiarities, the same anomalies,
characterise all the other objects discovered. Several small heads
in frames, supported by pillars or pedestals, most elegant in design
and elaborate in execution, show not only a considerable acquaintance
with art, but an intimate knowledge of the method of working in ivory.
Scattered about were fragments of winged sphinxes, the head of a lion
of singular beauty, human heads, legs and feet, bulls, flowers, and
scroll work. In all these specimens the spirit of the design and the
delicacy of the workmanship are equally to be admired.”

There are altogether more than fifty of these Assyrian ivories in
the British museum: a detailed account of nearly all is given by Mr.
Layard in the appendix to his first volume. Dr. Birch says they cannot
be later in date than the seventh century B.C.; and thinks it highly
probable that they are much earlier. Mr. Layard believes that about the
year 950 B.C. is the most probable period of their execution.

There can be no doubt that from the year 1000 B.C. down to the
Christian æra there was a constant succession of artists in ivory in
the western Asiatic countries, in Egypt, in Greece, and in Italy.
Long before ivory was applied in Greece to the making of bas-reliefs
and statues it was employed for a multitude of objects of luxury and
ornament. Inferior to marble in whiteness, and of course greatly
inferior in extent of available surface, ivory exceeds marble in beauty
of polish and is less fragile, being an animal substance and of true
tissue and growth. From the time of Hesiod and Homer numerous allusions
are to be found in classic authors to various works in this material:
such as the decoration of shields, couches, and articles of domestic
use. As to statues, Pausanias tells us that, so far as he could learn,
men first made them of wood only; of ebony, cypress, cedar, or oak. The
passages from the earlier classics have been referred to, over and over
again, by all the later writers on the subject; and it would be not
merely wearying but unnecessary to repeat them here.

In the sixth century before Christ, ivory statues of the Dioscuri and
other deities were made at Sicyon and Argos. Sir Digby Wyatt, in the
lecture before referred to, speaks of them as having been rude in
character, but there is no evidence left for so disparaging a decision.
Other works were statues of the Hours, of Themis, and of Diana.
The names of some of the sculptors have been preserved: among them
Polycletus, Endoos of Athens, the brothers Medon, and Dorycleides.

The style in which objects of this kind were executed was called
_Toreutic_: from τορεύω, to bore through, to chase, to work in relief;
signifying chiefly working the material in the round or in relief.
Winckelman, in his history of art, explains the term at first with
insufficient exactness: “Phidias inventa cet art appelé par les anciens
_toreutice_, c’est à dire, l’art de tourner.” In his second edition he
corrects this, and rightly says, “la racine de cette dénomination est
τορός, _clair_, _distinct_, épithète qui s’applique à la voix. C’est
pourquoi on donne ce nomme au travaux en relief, par opposition au
travail en creux des pierres précieuses.” A long disquisition on the
meaning of the word, and its etymology, is given by De Quincy.

One of the most famous of such _toreutic_ works, and of which Pausanias
has left us a tolerably accurate description, was the coffer which the
Cypselidæ sent as an offering to Olympia, about 600 B.C. It seems to
have been made of cedar wood, of considerable size; the figures ranged
in five rows, one above the other, along the sides which were inlaid
with gold and ivory. The subjects were taken from old heroic stories.
De Quincy has given a large plate with a conjectural restoration of
the chest; which he supposes to have been oblong with a rounded cover.
Others believe it to have been elliptical.

Pausanias, in his description of Greece, mentions the existence in
his time of numerous ivory statues and of chryselephantine works. In
the first section of the seventeenth chapter of the fifth book he
enumerates ten or fifteen, which he says were all made of ivory and
gold; and a table of ivory. At Megara he saw an ivory statue of Venus,
the work of Praxiteles; at Corinth, many chryselephantine statues; near
Mycenæ, a statue of Hebe, the work of Naucydes; in Altis, the horn of
Amalthea; and in another treasury there, a statue of Endymion entirely
of ivory, except his robe; at Elis, a statue made of ivory and gold,
the work of Phidias; near Tritia, in Achaias, an ivory throne with the
sitting figure of a virgin; at Ægira, a wooden statue of Minerva of
which the face, hands, and feet were ivory. And, to name no more, a
statue of Minerva, the work of Endius, all of ivory, long preserved at
Tegea, but at the time when he wrote placed at the entrance of the new
forum at Rome, having been taken there by Augustus.

There are two men whose travels and the sights they saw we cannot but
envy; one was Pausanias, the other our own Leland.

It should be observed that Pausanias believed ivory to be the horn and
not the tooth of the elephant: and he has a long argument about it
in his fifth book, where he refers to and mentions the Celtic stag.
Declaring it to be horn, he says that, like the horns of oxen, ivory
can be softened by fire and changed from a round to a flat shape.

The famous chryselephantine statues of Phidias and his contemporaries
were somewhat later than the statues of the Dioscuri and the chest at
Olympia. One of the most celebrated was the figure of Minerva in the
Parthenon, which was in height nearly forty English feet. It would be
wrong to omit all notice of the attempt to reproduce this statue which
was made by order of the late Duc de Luynes, and was shown in the Paris
Exhibition of 1855. “M. Simart, qui l’a exécutée, s’est montré le digne
interprète de Phidias, et a su retrouver, par ses études approfondies,
le vrai sentiment de l’art antique. La statue, de trois mètres de
hauteur, est d’ivoire et d’argent: la face, le cou, le bras et les
pieds, la tête de Méduse placée sur son égide, ainsi que le torse de la
Victoire qu’elle tient dans la main droite, sont d’ivoire de l’Inde. La
lance, le bouclier, le casque, et le serpent sont de bronze; la tunique
et l’égide d’argent ont été repoussées et ciselées.”

Even more colossal than the figure of Minerva was the Jupiter at
Olympia; the god was represented sitting, and reached to the height of
about fifty-eight feet. De Quincy has some conjectural restorations of
this statue engraved in his book.

We remember the destruction of these and similar works with the utmost
regret; and the more so, because that destruction was owing in many
instances to the mad violence of Christian fanatics; the iconoclasts
of the eighth century. The remains which we possess even of smaller
objects are not only of excessive rarity, but they cannot with any
certainty be attributed to artists working in Greece itself. Ivory and
metal have perished under conditions which have left uninjured fragile
vases. There are some examples of carvings in ivory in the British
museum, and especially in the collection lately purchased from signor
Castellani which have been found in Etruscan tombs. Many of these are
perhaps the work of Greek artists.

Etruscan sculpture was probably derived at first from Egypt: but
the art of the one was entirely and unchangingly conventional, and
never seems to vary from a certain fixed style. The Etrurian, on the
contrary, soon cleared itself from the bondage of old traditions and,
even when rudest, was free and attempted to imitate nature in the
representation of muscles, hair, and draperies.

Neither the beauty nor the wonderful spirit of the execution of some of
the ivories in the British museum has been exceeded or perhaps equalled
in any later time. Among them the following ought to be particularly

A large bust of a woman, of the Roman republican period, and a small
carving of the head of a horse, scarcely inferior to the work of any
Greek artist of the best time. A very important head of a Gorgon, as
seen on Athenian coins, with eyes inlaid in gold, about two inches in
diameter; probably the button of a woman’s dress. Two lions, the heads
and part only of the bodies, lying across each other, very admirable
and full of character; and another lion’s head, the top perhaps of the
handle of a mirror. These were chiefly discovered, with numerous other
fragments, at Chiusi and Calvi. At Chiusi also were found the panels of
two small caskets which have been put together; both are of early date;
one it may be of the fourth century B.C. and Phœnician in style. There
is also in the same case a fine small ivory statuette, much later,
perhaps of the second century: a boy, still partly embedded in the
mortar or refuse in which it was found.

The workers in ivory during the first centuries of our æra were, as a
class, sufficiently numerous to be exempted by law from some personal
and municipal obligations. Pancirolus, in his “Notitiæ,” gives a list
of these bodies of artificers. He mentions as exempt, architects,
medical men, painters, and others, with references to the various laws
under which they were excused; and among them are “workmen in ivory,
who make chairs, beds, and other things of that sort.”

Nevertheless, carvings in ivory of the Roman imperial times before
Constantine are extremely scarce. In the superb collection in the South
Kensington museum there are two only which can safely be so attributed.
One is the fragment, no. 299; the other is the beautiful leaf, no. 212.

The British museum (not to mention a large number of fragments
chiefly of caskets or decorations of furniture, tesseræ and tickets
of admission to theatres and shows, dice, and the like) possesses
a few pieces, of which one is extremely fine in character and in
good preservation. The subject is Bellerophon, who is represented on
Pegasus, killing the Chimæra; and it is executed in open work. The age
is somewhat doubtful. Professor Westwood places it as early as the
third century, and his judgment must be treated with great deference.
Others, of no slight authority, are indisposed to give it an earlier
date than the fourth century. This admirable ivory has somewhat of the
character of the book-cover in the Barberini collection, engraved by
Gori, in the second volume of his great work on diptychs. That famous
piece is not perfect, nor is there any name upon it. Gori fairly argues
that it represents the emperor Constantius, about the year 357. The
Bellerophon is of finer work.

The gradual and uninterrupted decline of art from the days of Augustus
is to be traced as distinctly in the ivories which have been preserved
as in ancient buildings. But we can scarcely agree with D’Agincourt
as regards its rapidity. Speaking of sculpture generally, he says:
“On vit celle-ci successivement grande, noble, auguste sous le prince
qui mérita ce nom; licencieuse et obscène sous Tibère; grossièrement
adulatrice sous Caracalla; extravagante sous Néron, qui faisait dorer
les chefs-d’œuvre de Lysippe.” D’Agincourt probably refers to the
barbarism of Caligula, who proposed to put a head of himself upon the
Olympic Zeus by Phidias; or to Claudius, who cut the head of Alexander
out of a picture by Apelles, to replace it with his own. Suetonius
has recorded the first of these atrocities (can we speak of them by a
lighter name?) and Pliny the last.

In the collection given to the town of Liverpool by Mr. Mayer there are
two very celebrated pieces, possibly of the third century; they were
originally the leaves of a diptych. On one is Æsculapius, on the other


From the middle of the fourth century down to the end of the sixteenth
we have an unbroken chain of examples still existing. Individual pieces
may, perhaps, in many instances be of questionable origin as regards
the country of the artist, and, sometimes, with respect to the exact
date within fifty or even a hundred years. But there is no doubt
whatever that, increasing in number as they come nearer to the middle
ages, we can refer to carved ivories of every century preserved in
museums in England and abroad. Their importance with reference to the
history of art cannot be overrated. There is no such continuous chain
in manuscripts, or mosaics, or gems, or textiles, or porcelain, or
enamels. Perhaps, with the exception of manuscripts, there never was
in any of these classes so large a number executed nor the demand for
them so great. The material itself or the decorations by which other
works were surrounded very probably tempted people to destroy them; and
we may thank the valueless character of many a piece of carved ivory,
except as a work of art, for its preservation to our own days.

The most important ivories before the seventh century are the consular
diptychs. The earliest which still exists claims to be of the middle
of the third century, the latest belongs to the middle of the sixth.
Anything doubled, or doubly folded, is a diptych: δίπτυχον; but the
term was chiefly applied to the tablets used for writing on with
metallic or ivory styles by the ancients. When these tablets had
three leaves they were called triptychs, and of five or more leaves
pentaptychs or polyptychs. Inside, each leaf was slightly sunk with
a narrow raised margin in order to hold wax; outside, they were
ornamented with carvings. They were not always of ivory; frequently of
citron or of some less costly wood, and for common use were probably of
small size, convenient for the hand and for carrying about.

Homer, in the sixth book of the Iliad, speaks of such tablets, and
there are frequent references to them in Latin writers; in Juvenal,
Martial, and other authors. Many passages are to be found quoted in
books upon the ancient Roman diptychs. It happens also that two ancient
specimens have been found. Both were discovered in gold mines in
Transylvania, and have been described by Massmann in a volume published
at Leipsic in 1841. Each consists of three leaves, one of fir-wood, the
other of beech, and about the size of a modern octavo book. The outer
part exhibits the plain surface of the wood, the inner part is covered
with wax surrounded by a margin. The edges of one side are pierced
that they might be fastened together by means of a thread or wire
passed through them. The wax is not thick on either set of tablets;
it is thinner on the beechen set, in which the stylus of the writer
has in places cut through the wax into the wood. There is manuscript
still remaining on both of them: the beginning of the beechen tablets
containing some Greek letters. The writing on the other is in Latin,
a copy of a document relating to a collegium. The name of one of the
consuls is given, determining the date to be A.D. 169. An abridged
account of these very curious tablets is given in Smith’s “Dictionary
of antiquities” under the word “tabulæ.”

The consular diptychs were of much larger size than those made for
everyday use: generally about twelve inches in length by five or six in
breadth. Diptychs of this kind were part of the presents sent by new
consuls on their appointment to very eminent persons; to the senators,
to governors of provinces, and to friends. Each consul probably sent
many such gifts, and duplicates of more than one example have been
preserved. These naturally varied greatly, not only in the workmanship
but in the material. For persons in high station or authority the
diptychs would be carved by the best artists of the time, and if not
made entirely of some metal very costly and valuable the material
would be ivory, perhaps also mounted in gold. As we find in the fifth
book of the letters of Symmachus (consul, A.D. 391), “Domino principi
nostro auro circumdatum diptychon misi, cæteros quoque amicos eburneis
pugillaribus et canistellis argenteis honoravi.” For others of lower
rank or for dependents, they would be roughly finished and of bone or

It is to the custom of sending these diptychs to people of rank in the
provinces that we owe the preservation of some still extant, and which
have been kept in the country into which they came by gift or otherwise
in very early times. Generally, in somewhat later days, they were given
or bequeathed to churches; and, having been first used in the public
services, were afterwards laid by in their treasuries.

Inside these official diptychs the wax may have been inscribed with the
Fasti Consulares or list of names of all preceding consuls, closing
with that of the new magistrate, the donor. As Ausonius, himself consul
in the year 379, says in one of his epigrams:

    “Hactenus adscripsi fastos. Si sors volet, ultra
      Adjiciam: si non, qui legis, adjicies.
    Scire cupis, qui sim? titulum qui quartus ab imo est
      Quære; legis nomen consulis Ausonii.”

This, however, as a rule, is matter of conjecture. Outside, the
leaves were carved with various ornaments; sometimes with scrolls, or
cornucopiæ, or the bust of the new consul in a medallion. Sometimes—and
as the diptychs which we now possess repeat this style the most
frequently we may conclude it to have been the usual practice at least
for the more important of those presented—the consul was represented
at full length and sitting in the cushioned curule chair: one hand
often being uplifted and holding the _mappa circensis_. He is clothed
in the full ceremonial vestments of his office, as used when he was
inducted into it. The dress itself seems to be a splendid imitation
of that worn by the old generals at the celebration of a triumph; a
richly embroidered cloak (_toga picta_) with ample folds, beneath which
is a tunic striped with purple (_trabea_) or figured with palm leaves
(_tunica palmata_). On his feet are shoes of cloth of gold (_calcei
aurati_), and in one hand the consular staff or sceptre (_scipio_)
surmounted by an eagle or an image of Victory.

The conspicuous representation of a cushion on the seat of the chair is
probably not to be overlooked as of small signification or importance.
Cushions were permitted only to certain privileged classes during the
games of the circus; and Caligula conceded the use of cushions to
senators as a graceful compliment at the beginning of his reign.

Some will remember also the advice given by Ovid, in his “Art of Love,”
to the lover in attendance on his mistress in the theatre or at public
games (he had just before been speaking of the ivory statues carried in
the procession):

    “Parva leves capiunt animos. Fuit utile multis
      Pulvinum facili composuisse manu.
    Profuit et tenui ventum movisse tabella [_flabello_?];
      Et cava sub teneram scamna dedisse pedem.”

Not unusually in the lower part of each leaf, in a separate
compartment, were representations of the shows which the consul
intended to give, of the manumission of slaves, and of the presents,
money, bread, &c., which were also to be distributed among the people.

The series of consular diptychs, having each of them in many cases a
known date, is of essential value and importance in the history of art,
whilst the fashion of them lasted. Similar as they are one to another
in certain respects, nevertheless there is a considerable variety of
treatment and undoubtedly various degrees of excellence or inferiority
of style and execution. When so many would be required by the consul
of the year, it was impossible that all could be made by good artists,
and probably one or two of the best kind were roughly copied by common
workmen. It was sufficient if the general character, dress, or special
ornament of the consul were represented.

Rapidly as art declined during the three centuries after the birth
of Constantine, as shown especially in these consular diptychs, we
may nevertheless trace a certain grandeur in the figures and in the
attitudes which show that earlier and better models of antiquity were
still followed by the sculptors. Labarte further observes that the
diptychs carved at Constantinople were far superior to those which were
made in Italy.

Many of these diptychs are identified by the name of the consul which
is carved across the top of one leaf; the full legend generally running
across both being equally divided. It has been said that these legends
(as well as portions of the sculpture) were sometimes coloured red.
We know no extant example, but the following passage from Claudian is
important, and not on that particular point alone:

      “Tum virides pardos, et cetera colligit austri
    Prodigia, immanesque simul Latonia dentes,
    Qui secti ferro in tabulas auroque micantes,
    Inscripti rutilum cælato consule nomen,
    Per proceres et vulgus eant; stupor omnibus Indis
    Plurimus ereptis elephas inglorius errat

We usually find also a profusion of proper names, according to the
fashion and taste of the court of Constantinople and of the last years
of the consulate. Following these names was a formula which expressed
the style and dignities: “Vir illustris, comes domesticorum equitum, et
consul ordinarius.” The “vir illustris” signified that the new consul
had either filled or was of rank great enough to fill high official
positions in the state. The “comes domesticorum equitum” was his title
as commander of the bodyguard of the emperor. The “consul ordinarius”
declared the true consular dignity itself.

Some of the consular diptychs also add the names of the persons or
communities to whom they were sent. Thus, the diptych of Flavius
Theodorus Philoxenus, A.D. 525, has the following inscription in Greek
iambics, part upon one tablet, part upon the other: “I, Philoxenus the
consul, offer this gift to the wise senate.”

Another diptych of Flavius Petrus, A.D. 516, has this inscription
within a large circle: “I, the consul, offer these presents, though
small in value, still ample in honours, to my [senatorial] fathers.”
This is given by M. Pulszky, in his essay on antique ivories. The
same writer quotes the often-cited decree of the emperor Theodosius;
by which, because of the honour attached to the receiving of these
diptychs, the presenting of them by anyone but the ordinary consuls
was forbidden. The law ought not to be omitted here: “Lex XV. Codex
Theodosianus, _tit._ xi. De expensis ludorum. Illud etiam constitutione
solidamus, ut exceptis consulibus ordinariis, nulli prorsus alteri
auream sportulam aut diptycha ex ebore dandi facultas sit. Cum publica
celebrantur officia, sit sportulis nummus argenteus, alia materia

During the period when these ivory diptychs were in use or fashion,
that is (so far as we know) from the first or second centuries to the
sixth, the office of consul was entirely in the hands of the emperors,
who conferred it on whom they would, and assumed it themselves as often
as they thought fit. Augustus was consul thirteen times; Vitellius
proclaimed himself perpetual consul; Vespasian eight times; and
Domitian seventeen. The consuls, therefore, gradually became mere
ciphers in the state. It is true that they presided in the senate and
on other public occasions with all the ancient forms; and the mere
title, down to the extinction of the western empire, was nominally the
most exalted and honourable of all official positions.

The most complete list which we have of the existing consular diptychs
is given by professor Westwood in a carefully written paper read before
the Oxford architectural society, and printed in their proceedings for
1862. These are supposed to have been all identified, and, in most
instances, by the inscription on the ivory. Nevertheless, we must still
acknowledge to a grave doubt about more than one:—

    1. M. Julius Philippus Augustus. In the Meyer
       collection at Liverpool. One leaf                            248
    2. M. Aurelius Romulus Cæsar. In the British museum. One leaf   308
    3. Rufius Probianus. At Berlin. Both leaves                     322
    4. Anicius Probus. In the treasury of the cathedral of Aosta.
       Both leaves                                                  406
    5. Flavius Felix. Bibliothèque Impériale, Paris. One leaf       428
    6. Valentinian III. In the treasury of the cathedral of Monza.
       Both leaves                                                  430
    7. Flavius Areobindus. At Milan, in the Trivulci collection.
       Both leaves                                                  434
    8. Flavius Asturius. At Darmstadt. One leaf                     449
    9. Flavius Aetius. At Halberstadt. One leaf                     454
   10. Narius Manlius Boethius. In the bibl. Quiriniana at
       Brescia. Two leaves                                          487
   11. Theodorus Valentianus. At Berlin. Both leaves                505
   12. Flavius Dagalaiphus Ariobindus. At Lucca; both leaves.
       At Zurich; both leaves. And in private possession at Dijon;
       one leaf                                                     506
   13. Flavius Taurus Clementinus. In the Meyer collection at
       Liverpool. Both leaves                                       513
   14. Flavius Petrus Justinianus. Bibliothèque Impériale, at
       Paris; one leaf. And at Milan, in the Trivulci collection;
       both leaves                                                  516
   15. Flavius Anastasius Paulus Probus Pompeius. At Berlin;
       one leaf. The other leaf in South Kensington museum.
       Bibliothèque Impériale, Paris; both leaves. And Verona;
       one leaf                                                     517
   16. Flavius Paulus Probus Magnus. Two in the Imperial library
       at Paris; each one leaf. Another, so attributed, in the
       Mayer collection at Liverpool; one leaf                      518
   17. Flavius Anicius Justinus Augustus. At Vienna; one leaf       519
   18. Flavius Theodorus Philoxenus. Bibliothèque Impériale,
       Paris; both leaves. And in the Mayer collection; one leaf;
       very doubtful                                                525
   19. Flavius Anicius Justinianus Augustus. At Paris               528
   20. Rufinus Orestes. South Kensington museum. Both leaves        530
   21. Anicius Faustus Albinus Basilius. In the Uffizii, at
       Florence; one leaf. The companion leaf is in the Brera,
       at Milan                                                     541

A few remarks may be of use to the student with reference to some of
these important diptychs. The leaves of no. 3 now form the covers of a
manuscript life of St. Ludgerus. This diptych is erroneously named by
Labarte as the most ancient known to exist.

Of no. 5, the other leaf was lost or stolen during the French
revolution of 1792.

Mr. Oldfield, a very high authority, suggests that no. 6 should be
given to Valentinian II., in which case the date would be about A.D.
380. The earlier date is supported by the great beauty and admirable
execution of the diptych.

No. 7 has no inscription: it bears a monogram which contains all the
letters of the name Areobindus. It is engraved in the Thesaurus of Gori.

No. 8 was formerly in the church of St. Martin at Liége, and it was
long supposed to be lost. Professor Westwood, however, has found the
greater portion of one leaf, used as the cover of a book of the gospels
in the royal library at Darmstadt. This, probably, is not a fragment of
the Liége diptych, but of another of the same consul. The two leaves
are engraved in Gori.

A folio volume of more than 200 pages was edited by Hagenbuch in
1738, containing a number of learned essays on the diptych of Manlius
Boethius, no. 10. It has at the beginning engravings of both leaves:
and the consul is represented on one in a standing position; on
the other, sitting and holding the _mappa_ in his right hand. The
inscription is unusually obscure: how much so may be judged from
the fact that the editor of the book has collected more than half a
dozen different interpretations of it. Some of them are amusing. The
inscription on one leaf runs thus: NARMANLBOETHIVSVCETINL, on the
other, EXPPPVSECCONSORDETPATRIC. The members of the Academy at Paris,
to whom the difficulty had been referred, proposed to read “Natales
regios Manlius Boethius vir clarissimus et inlustris ex propria pecunia
voto suscepto edixit celebrandos consul ordinarius et patricius.” But a
more probable reading is, “Narius Manlius Boethius vir clarissimus et
inlustris, expræfectus prætorio, præfectus, et comes, consul ordinarius
et patricius.” Again, against this last some have disputed that the PPP
meant three times prefect, and CC twice consul.

We must remember that artists in ivory were driven, because of the
narrow limits at their disposal, to use extreme forms of contractions
and symbols, scarcely intelligible even in their own time, instead of
words: far more so, indeed, than were the carvers of inscriptions upon
monumental stones, altars, and sarcophagi.

Professor Westwood leaves the date of no. 11 doubtful: it is
remarkable, as representing in a medallion, between the busts of the
emperor and empress, the head of Christ with a cruciferous nimbus.

The Paris diptych of the consul Anastasius was long known as
the diptych of Bourges, under which name it is well engraved in
Montfaucon’s “Antiquities”: and no. 18 as the diptych of Compiegne;
having been given by Charles the Bald in the ninth century to the abbey
church of St. Corneille, where the leaves were preserved until its
destruction in 1790, and were then transferred to Paris. The diptych
is admirably figured in the Trésor de numismatique et de glyptique of
Lenormant, who refers also to previous writers on this diptych.

Basilius, consul of Constantinople, whose name is attached to no. 21,
was the last of the long and illustrious line of consuls. They had
continued, with a few short interruptions of the tribunes, for more
than a thousand years. After Basilius, the emperors of the East took
the title, until at length it fell into oblivion. The last consul of
Rome was Decimus Theodorus Paulinus, A.D. 536. The second leaf of this
diptych has been identified by professor Westwood: M. Pulszky believed
it to have been lost. It is but a fragment of the right wing of the
diptych, the upper half. Gori gives figures of both leaves: he decides
against their being of the same pair. Mr. Westwood, however, says that
“it is certainly the companion” to the leaf in the Uffizii.

A detailed description and arguments about many of these diptychs will
be found in the dissertations printed by Gori in his Thesaurus. Other
authorities are Du Cange, Mabillon, and Montfaucon. Their statements
have been ably and briefly summed up in the very interesting paper
already mentioned, read before the architectural society of Oxford, by
professor Westwood; and by M. Pulszky in his essay on antique ivories.

A Roman diptych, undescribed, is preserved at Tarragona in Spain, and
it is extremely probable that a careful search amongst the treasures
still remaining in the churches of that country would discover others.
The very learned editor of the Thesaurus of Gori (writing more than a
hundred years ago) says: “Suspicio enim invaluit in locupletissimis
Hispaniæ sacrariis, quo totius fere orbis donaria confluxerunt, multa
hujusmodi abscondi, quæ nusquam adhuc comparuere, quia hactenus nec
perquisita nec curata.”


There are several very important Roman diptychs and leaves of
diptychs, not consular, still extant; some also of greater beauty
than any of the examples in the preceding list. Among them is the
diptych (already mentioned) of Æsculapius and Hygieia in the Mayer
collection at Liverpool; and another, but smaller, of the same subject
in a private collection in Switzerland. This last is described by
professor Westwood, who possesses a cast of it, as “in much deeper
relief than the Fejérváry diptych, and full of energy in the design.
Here Æsculapius holds a palm-branch in his right hand, and supports
his club, round which a serpent is twined, with his left; whilst
Hygieia holds a snake in her right hand and, apparently, a large
melon in her left.” Another is the diptych of cardinal Quirini now at
Brescia, having on one leaf, as interpreted by M. Pulszky, Phædra and
Hyppolytus; and on the other Diana and Virbius. This is probably of the
third century.

Another is the famous diptych, long known as the Tablets of Sens,
but now at Paris in the Imperial library and forming the covers of a
thirteenth century manuscript, containing “The Office of fools,” or,
rather, the Office of the feast of the circumcision. In the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries some childish and improper jests and plays
were allowed in churches on the first day of the year. This “Office
of fools” seems to have been a complete arrangement for the day;
with mass, matins, and hours. The whole affair was something like
(but without the reverential decorum) the festival of the boy-bishop,
celebrated in more than one of our English cathedrals about the same
period, and was probably a relic of the heathen Saturnalia.

These tablets, which are somewhat similar in style to the sarcophagi
of the third century, are engraved by Labarte in his album. On one
leaf is represented Bacchus in a car drawn by centaurs; on the other
is Diana in a chariot drawn by two bulls. Both subjects are surrounded
by mythological figures. They are engraved also in Lacroix, Arts of
the middle ages, as an illustration of book-binding: and in the second
volume of the Monumens antiques inédits, by Millin.

There is a diptych of perhaps the fifth century in the treasury of
the cathedral of Monza; one leaf representing Calliope sounding the
lyre, and the other some unknown philosopher. Mr. Oldfield, in his
excellent catalogue with very valuable notes of the Arundel series
of fictile ivories, supposes the muse to be some Roman lady in an
ideal character. He objects to Gori’s suggestion that the other leaf
represents a poet, taking the characteristics to be those certainly
of a philosopher. Another is in the public library at Paris, the two
leaves having six muses, each of them accompanied by an author. These
last have been guessed at by M. de Witte, who places the diptych in the
fourth century. Neither M. Pulszky nor professor Westwood is inclined
to agree with these guesses, except that one may perhaps be Euripides
grouped with Melpomene. The workmanship is rude and the figures carved
in high relief. Again, another diptych at Vienna in the cabinet of
antiquities, is attributed to the time of Justinian. One leaf has a
figure representing Rome; the other, Constantinople.

The above are all named in the essay attached to the catalogue of
the Fejérváry collection by M. Pulszky; and professor Westwood very
rightly adds to them one leaf of a diptych in the possession of count
Auguste de Bastard, the diptych of St. Gall, the mythological figure
of Penthea in the museum of the hôtel Cluny, a perfect diptych in the
cathedral of Novara, and another in the basilica of San Gaudenzio at
the same place.

There is no example among all these which surpasses in beauty of
execution or in the interest of the subject, two ivory tablets which
were formerly the doors of a reliquary in the convent of Moutier in
France, in the diocese of Troyes. When M. Pulszky wrote his essay both
tablets were supposed to be lost; they had been described and engraved
in the Thesaurus of Gori, from whose prints alone they were known.
Happily both since have been recovered. The left tablet, discovered
a few years ago at the bottom of a well, is in the hôtel Cluny, much
injured, and the other is in the collection of the South Kensington
museum. The South Kensington leaf is probably the most beautiful
antique ivory in the world. (See etching.) Each leaf represents a
Bacchante; on both they are standing, and the Bacchante on the leaf in
the English collection is accompanied by an attendant. Clothed from
the shoulders to the feet in a long tunic, she stands near an oak-tree
before an altar, on which a fire is lighted, and she is in the act of
dropping a grain of incense from a small box held in her left hand.
The whole figure is extremely graceful and dignified, the expression
of the face earnest and devotional, and the form of the figure rightly
expressed beneath the drapery; the hands and feet also well and
carefully carved. On the corresponding leaf, preserved at Paris, the
Bacchante has no attendant. Her drapery falls negligently suspended
from her left shoulder, leaving the right arm and breast exposed.
Professor Becker in his “Gallus,” describing the Lycoris of Virgil’s
tenth eclogue, says: “Her light _tunica_, without sleeves, had become
displaced by her movements and slidden down over her arm, disclosing
something more than the dazzling shoulder.” He adds in a note that “the
wide opening for the neck, and the broad holes for the arms, caused
the _tunica_ on every occasion of the person’s stooping to slip down
over the arm. Artists appear to have been particularly fond of this
drapery.” Such an arrangement, or rather disarrangement, of drapery
would equally happen when the tunic was fastened over the shoulder by
a small fibula, as it is represented upon the right arm of the young
attendant in the South Kensington leaf. The Paris Bacchante stands
before an altar on which a fire burns, and holds in each hand a torch
with the flaming end downwards, as if to extinguish them. Her hair is
gracefully bound with a riband decorated with ivy leaves, and falls
down her back. A pine tree, stiff in design, stands close behind the
altar; not to be compared with the oak-tree on the other leaf.

11¾ in. W. 4¾ in.

S. K. M. (N^o 212’6.5) W. WISE FECIT]

This admirable diptych was, perhaps, a gift on the occasion of some
marriage between members of the two patrician families whose names
are on the labels: NICOMACHORVM. SYMMACHORVM; or it may possibly
have formed the cover of the marriage contract itself, the _tabulæ
nuptiales_ of which Juvenal speaks; or perhaps it was a joint offering
to the temple of Bacchus or Cybele. The last supposition would be
confirmed if the omitted word was “religio,” as suggested by Passeri,
who believes that the two families took the opportunity of recording
upon this diptych, on some occasion of importance common to both of
them, their determination to uphold the old heathen worship against the
doctrines and influence of Christianity, at that time widely extending.

Before we pass to the large series of ivory carvings executed between
the eighth or ninth and the fifteenth centuries, there is one very
celebrated piece about which a few words may be said: a superb leaf of
a diptych, preserved in the British museum. The other leaf is lost and
has probably been destroyed; nor is there any record (it is believed)
from whence that museum obtained the ivory. It has been in the
collection for many years.


The plaque itself is one of the largest known: more than sixteen inches
in length by nearly six in width. The subject is an angel, standing
on the highest of six steps under an arch supported on two Corinthian
columns; he holds a globe with a cross above it in his right hand;
in his left a long staff, to the top of which, as if half resting on
it like a warrior on his lance, the hand is raised above his head.
He is clothed in a tunic and an ample cloak or mantle falling round
him and over the shoulders in graceful folds. His head is bound round
with a fillet, and the feet have sandals. There is no antique ivory
carving which surpasses this in grandeur of design, in power and force
of expression, or in the excellence of its workmanship. Although
some foreign writers are disposed to place the date of it so late
as the time of Justinian, we shall be more correct in attributing
it, with Mr. Oldfield, to the fifth or even to the end of the fourth
century. Nor, looking at it, can we hesitate to claim for the earliest
Christian art, after Christianity was recognised by Constantine, a
place by the side of the best works of pagan times. If we select this,
and the book-covers in the treasury of the cathedral at Milan, and
the well-known book-cover in the public library at Paris, we shall
find no western work in ivory to equal them in quality and beauty of
workmanship from the fifth to the thirteenth century.

We owe the preservation of many of these consular and mythological
diptychs to the circumstance that when the practice of sending them as
presents had (it may be) for some time been discontinued, another use
was found by adapting them to Christian purposes. In some cases the
subjects or titles of the diptychs were altered; as, for example, in
one of the diptychs preserved at Monza. This was originally a consular
diptych, of late work, coarse in style and manner of execution. The
consul is represented on each wing, raising the _mappa circensis_ in
the usual way: on one, however, he is standing; on the other he is
sitting upon a kind of throne. On one leaf the top of the consul’s
head has been shaved, to show the clerical tonsure; and in the blank
space of two small panels, immediately beneath the arch under which he
stands, the title S[an]C[tu]S GREG^oR[ius] is cut in high relief. On
the other leaf above the sitting consul, on the corresponding panels,
DAVID REX is inscribed in similar letters. Both the wings are engraved
by Gori. It must not be omitted that some late writers have argued that
this diptych is not a palimpsest; that it is merely an imitation of
the preceding consular diptychs, and not earlier than the seventh or
eighth century. But the whole character is unlike mere imitation; and
the shaving of the head, the alteration of the ornamented top of the
sceptre or staff, and the cutting of the inscription on the tablets,
might without difficulty have been made for the required and more
modern purpose.

It is easy to understand how later possessors of consular diptychs were
induced to make presents of them to their bishops and churches; and
in some instances, probably, in the sixth century, those originally
sent to high ecclesiastical persons were at once transferred to pious
uses. Instead of containing the lists of the consuls, the diptychs
then inclosed the names of martyrs, saints, or bishops who were to be
commemorated in the public service of the Church. These lists were read
at mass: of the saints at that part of the canon which is now known
as the _Communicantes_; and of the dead at the _Memento_, after the
consecration of the Eucharist. Frequent reference to the custom is to
be found in the old ritualists, and full information and a cloud of
authorities on the subject in the learned work of Salig, on diptychs.
The leaves of several such diptychs still exist, and sometimes with the
names not written on wax, but carved or incised upon the ivory itself.

One very remarkable example is the diptych, now at Liverpool, of
Flavius Clementinus, consul A.D. 513. Upon the back of each leaf a long
Greek inscription has been incised, done, beyond doubt, in the first
year of pope Hadrian, A.D. 772, when the diptych was given to some
church for sacred use. The list of names inscribed, to be prayed for,
includes that of the donor.

The two inscriptions are to be read across both divisions, and were
engraved probably upon the ivory by some one not well skilled in
the language. There are several faults, both in spelling and in the
letters: for example, we have στομεν sΘεωτωκος; ελεωςd; and ι often
instead of η.

The inscription is to this effect: “☩Let us stand well. ☩Let us stand
with reverence. ☩Let us stand with fear. Let us attend upon the holy
oblation, that in peace we may make the offering to God. The mercy,
the peace, the sacrifice of praise, the love of God and of the Father
and of our Saviour Jesus Christ be upon us, Amen. In the first year of
Adrian, patriarch of the city. Remember, Lord, thy servant John, the
least priest of the church of St. Agatha. Amen. ☩Remember, Lord, thy
servant Andrew Machera. Holy Mother of God; holy Agatha. ☩Remember,
Lord, thy servant and our pastor Adrian the patriarch. ☩Remember, Lord,
thy servant, the sinner, John the priest.”

Another example is the diptych of Anastasius, A.D. 517, of which one
leaf, n^{o.} 368, is in the South Kensington collection. Upon this leaf
the portion of a single word “GISI” is now alone to be deciphered;
when Wiltheim saw it, more than a hundred years ago at Liege, he read
“IGISI,” and supposed it to be part of the name of Ebregisus, the
twenty-fourth bishop of Tongres, in the seventh century. But upon
the other leaf, which is now preserved at Berlin, Gori was able to
make out a considerable portion. “Offerentes ... O ... eorum p. pi ...
ecclesia catholica quam eis dominus adsignare dignetur ... facientes
commemorationem beatissimorum apostolorum et martyrum omniumque
sanctorum. Sanctæ Mariæ Virginis, Petri, Pauli, _etc._” But he owns
that some even of these words are conjectural.

The diptych of Justinianus, in the public library at Paris, is one
more example of the same kind. Inside are written litanies of the
ninth century, with the names of saints inserted who were particularly
revered at Autun.

Another half of a consular diptych may be mentioned, a single leaf,
in which instance the original carving has not only been removed but
the ivory has been sawn into two pieces. As it happens, both fragments
are in this country—one in the British museum, the other in the
South Kensington collection, n^{o.} 266. The two together have still
sufficient traces left to enable us to recognise the old design: a
consul seated in the usual way, under a round arch. Below, there seem
to have been the two boys or servants emptying their sacks of money and

This mutilation occurred about the eighth or ninth century; and the
other side of the leaf was then carved with subjects taken from the
gospels. It was an unnecessary injury to destroy and plane away the
first design. As the new purpose was probably to decorate the panels of
some shrine or book-cover, the old carvings might have been concealed
when the plaques were inlaid, in the same manner as the very curious
pieces were treated, now at South Kensington, n^{os.} 253, 254, and 257.

It would be a subject far too extensive to attempt to give a history of
the use and purpose of diptychs in the public service of the Christian
Church. Their origin is to be traced to the very earliest times;
perhaps to the apostolic age. Mention is made of them in the liturgy
of St. Mark. Gori (or his author) quotes also the ecclesiastical
hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite. This is certainly not the
writing of the true Dionysius, the contemporary of St. Paul. Yet,
putting the pseudo-Dionysius as late as the fifth century, his evidence
is valuable, and he speaks of the use of diptychs as of things long

Numerous treaties and dissertations, even long books, have been written
on the subject; and it would be idle work to repeat the names of the
authors who are referred to, over and over again, by most writers on
ivory carvings. In fact, the learning which some of these exhibit might
much better have been shown if their subject had been the primitive
history and practices of the Church. Except to state the mere fact of
their use, the connection of ceremonial ecclesiastical diptychs with
sculpture in ivory requires only a few remarks.

The common use of such diptychs is well and shortly summed up in a
dissertation printed by Gori in his Thesaurus. The summary may be given
in few words, and, moreover, the dissertation itself is written in
explanation of the diptych of the consul Clementinus just mentioned,
which we are now fortunate enough to possess in England, in the Mayer
collection at Liverpool. Inside the leaves, as has been already
observed, is an inscription in Greek of the eighth century, to be read
during mass, desiring the people to be devout and reverent and to pray
for the persons whose names were to be recited.

The Christian diptychs were intended for four purposes. First come
those in which the names of all the baptised were entered, a kind of
_Fasti ecclesiæ_, and answering to the registers kept now in every
parish. Second, those in which were recorded the names of bishops and
of all who had made offerings to the church or other benefactions. This
list included the names of many persons still living. Third, those in
which were recorded the names of saints and martyrs; and, naturally, in
various places the names would be particularly of saints who in their
lives had been connected with the locality. Such additions are of the
utmost importance in tracing the history of ancient lists which have
come down to our own time. Diptychs of this class were read aloud at
mass, as a sign of the communion between the Church triumphant and
the Church militant on earth. Fourth, those in which were written the
names of dead members of the particular church or district, who having
died in the true faith and with the rites of the church were to be
remembered at mass.

As regards the living, the continuance of their names in the diptychs
was of the highest consequence; to be erased was equal to the
denunciation of them as heretics and unworthy of communion.

In the diptychs also were probably sometimes added the names of people
who were sick or in trouble.

But besides these four objects for which Christian diptychs were made,
there was another which must certainly have caused the production
of many large sculptured works in ivory from the seventh to the
tenth century: namely, for the purpose of exciting devotion and as
a means also of teaching the ignorant. Ivory tablets or diptychs of
this description are ordered to be exposed to the people in the old
Ambrosian rite for the church of Milan.

One of the most celebrated relics in ivory was executed about the
middle of the sixth century; the throne or chair made for Maximian,
archbishop of Ravenna from the year 546 to 556. This is now preserved
among the treasures of the cathedral at Ravenna, and is engraved in
the great book of Du Sommerard, and by Labarte in his handbook. The
chair has a high back, round in shape, and is entirely covered with
plaques of ivory, arranged in panels richly carved in high relief
with scenes from the gospels and with figures of saints. The plaques
have borders with foliated ornaments; birds and animals, flowers and
fruits, filling the intermediate spaces. Du Sommerard names amongst
the most remarkable subjects, the annunciation, the adoration of the
wise men, the flight into Egypt, and the baptism of our Lord. Sir
Digby Wyatt (in his lecture before the Arundel society) says that
this chair, having “always been carefully preserved as a holy relic,
has fortunately escaped destruction and desecration; and, but for
the beautiful tint with which time has invested it, would wear an
aspect little different from that which it originally presented in the
lifetime of the illustrious prelate for whom it was made. This valuable
object could hardly have been all wrought at one time, as Dr. Kugler
distinctly traces in it the handling of three different artists, who
could scarcely have all lived at the same period. Some of the plates
resemble diptychs. Thus, the series pourtraying the history of Joseph
in Egypt is quite classical; another, and less able artist in the same
style, provided the plates for the back, and in one set of five single
figures the Greek artificer stands apparent. The simplest explanation
appears to be that the throne was made up by the last-mentioned artist
out of materials provided for him, and that what was wanting to make it
entire was supplied by him.” Probably the different plaques were carved
by several sculptors; but Dr. Kugler’s supposition that the whole
chair was not made by contemporary artists (in short, at one time) is
scarcely probable.

Speaking of and praising the Ravenna chair, Passeri offers some very
useful remarks by way of caution against the hasty conclusions which
some make, who set down all ancient large plaques of ivory as having
been the leaves of diptychs: “Vidi etiam Ravennæ in chartophilacio
principis ecclesiæ sedem eburneam sancti Maximiani episcopi quinto
seculo operosissime efformatam, cujus ambitum undequaque adornant
tabulæ eburneæ amplitudinis fere sesquipedalis, quam plerumque
ebur patitur anaglypho opere, et scitissima manu elaboratæ, quæ si
disjectæ et singulares occurrent imprudentibus facile imponerent, ut
inter diptycha censerentur. Nec ista nominis quæstio est, nam longe
alia mente explicandæ sunt missiles consulum tabellæ, atque in illis
expressa emblemata, quæ omnia ad consulatum ejusque pompas pertinent,
alia vero sculpturæ omnes, quæ in alium usum parabantur. Hæc observatio
facile prodit errorem illorum, qui diptychis adcensuerunt laterculos,
nullo consule designatos, cum musarum, poetarum, Bacchantum ac deorum
imaginibus, quæ mihi nullam aliam ingerunt speciem, quam quod aliquando
libros contexerint, quibus parerga adluderent. Sunt præterea quædam
imperatorum inferioris ævi simulacra tabellis eburneis incisa, in
quibus nulla cardinum vestigia apparent, ut potius videatur sedes
honorarias decorasse, quam quod diptychorum loco essent, quum præsertim
exterior illorum ornatus superne in acutum desinat; quod a diptychorum
instituto quam maxime abhorret.”


About the time when the chair of Ravenna was made, that is, in the
sixth century, sculpture in ivory again sensibly declined. The
figures in Byzantine work of that period begin to be characterised
by sharpness and meagreness of form, and lengthiness of proportion;
in the heads, however, we yet find a good expression; and especially
in representations of our Lord dignity and resignation. The costume
also gradually became more and more covered with ornaments and jewels;
although the ancient classical robes were still copied, and apostles
were clothed in togas, or the virgin in a chlamys and tunic, or the
magi in Phrygian caps.

Troubles, moreover, arose, and about the year 750 there sprang up in
the east very bitter theological quarrels, especially having reference
to the lawfulness of the use of images, not only in churches but for
private devotion. The spirit of Mahometanism, strictly and dogmatically
condemning without distinction, whether in sculpture or in paintings,
all representations of the deity and of man, first shown in the near
neighbourhood of the Holy Land, spread rapidly from one country to
another. The Christian iconoclasts of Constantinople, even if they did
not follow the heresy of Mahomet in this matter to its fullest extent,
at least equalled it in hatred of all holy images and sacred sculpture,
and in the severity with which they persecuted the workers and
purchasers of such works. Towards the middle of the eighth century the
power and influence of these fanatics reached their height, and with
Leo the Isaurian on the throne received the fullest support which an
emperor could give. We must attribute to the rage of the iconoclasts,
indiscriminating in its fury, not only the destruction of Christian
monuments and sculpture (and especially those which were said to be
miraculous, ἀχειροποιηταί,) but of many of the most important and most
valuable remains, then still existing, of the best periods of ancient
Greek art. This persecution continued for more than a hundred years,
until the reign of Basil the Macedonian, A.D. 867; who, by permitting
again the right use of images, restored to the arts their free exercise.

In consequence of these excesses in the east the west of Europe
gained greatly. Not only works of art were brought by fugitives from
Constantinople to France, Germany, and other countries, thus furnishing
models from which copies could be multiplied and a better taste
introduced, but the workmen and artists themselves, driven into exile,
came and were hospitably received and founded everywhere new schools of
art. Charlemagne especially, too wise a prince to overlook the certain
benefits and advantages which were thus offered, liberally patronised
the strangers and gave them his assistance and protection everywhere.

Some writers of great authority upon paintings have said that the
iconoclast emigration did not much influence art in Rome and Italy. The
Roman artists, as shown in the few mosaics which remain, “trod the path
of decline, independent in their weakness. To the faults which had been
confirmed by centuries of existence, others were superadded. To absence
of composition, of balance in distribution and connection between
figures, were added neglect and emptiness of form, a general sameness
of feature, and the total disappearance of relief by shadow. Still the
reminiscence of antique feeling remained in certain types, in a sort
of dignity of expression and attitude, and in breadth of draperies,
which, though defined by parallel lines, were still massive.” Crowe
and Cavalcaselle, from whom the quotation is taken, may not intend,
however, to include in this statement sculptures in ivory.


There are still remaining, in the collections both at home and abroad,
some examples of carved ivories from the fifth century to the time
of Charlemagne. The woodcut represents one of the most important and
remarkable works known of this period. Although there is a great
similarity of style between this ivory and a silver vase of the sixth
century in the Blacas collection, in the British museum, there is still
difficulty in suggesting even a probable date, which can scarcely be
later than the early part of the seventh century; nor is it more easy
to speculate on the original use of the vase. A loose ring, cut from
the same block of ivory, surrounds the foot; and, if the vase was made
for some very sacred purpose, we may suppose that the ring carried
a thin veil to be thrown over the whole for further security and
reverence. The cover is of later date, and where the ivory has cracked
there is a repair excellently done by some mediæval jeweller with a
small gold chain which extends from the rim downwards about two inches.
This piece is in the British museum.

Unlike the vase, which is good both in design and workmanship, the
early ivories of western Europe are rude and many of them even
barbarous in manner and workmanship; but about the year 800 a sure
result of the influx of Greek artists is to be seen, and the style
advanced with a very evident progression, subject only to a short
interval of deterioration at the end of the tenth century. After this
brief check there followed a distinct improvement, impressed, however,
with a feeling and type peculiar to the eleventh and first half of the
twelfth century. We find the figures calm and, as it were, collected
in design, but placed in stiff and unnatural positions, the draperies
close and clinging and broken up into numerous little folds, ornamented
also still more largely than before with small jewels or beads. The
school of the lower Rhine kept itself to a certain extent free from
these faults; their figures preserved more movement, their modelling
was better, their draperies more natural and disposed with greater art.

Christianity spread gradually though slowly over western Europe from
the age of Charlemagne, and, as it spread, ivory was used more and
more for the decoration of ecclesiastical furniture, especially of
books and reliquaries. The adaptation of the large tablets given by
the consuls has been already spoken of: and not only were the old
diptychs still remaining in the seventh or eighth centuries applied
to their new purpose for the public services of the church, but many
new diptychs must also have been provided. Pyxes for the consecrated
and unconsecrated wafers, retables or ornamented screens to be placed
upon altars, holy water buckets, handles for flabella, episcopal combs,
croziers, and pastoral staffs were made in fast increasing numbers.

There is ample evidence, not only from examples which have been
preserved down to our own times but from contemporary writers, of
the large extent to which the employment of ivory reached in the
Carlovingian period, from the end of the eighth to the middle of the
tenth century. Eginhard, writing to his son, sends him a coffer made by
a contemporary artist, enriched with columns of ivory after the antique
style; Hildoward, bishop of Cambrai, A.D. 790, orders a diptych of
ivory to be made for him in the twelfth year of his pontificate: an
inventory of Louis le Débonnaire, in 823, mentions a diptych of ivory,
a statuette, and a coffer; his son-in-law, count Everard, leaves in
his will writing tablets, a chalice and coffer, an evangelisterium
ornamented with bas-reliefs, and a sword and belt with similar
decorations, all of ivory; Hincmar, archbishop of Rheims, in 845,
orders covers to be made for the works of St. Jerome with plaques of
ivory, and also for a sacramentary and lectionary.

Several of the most important of the existing examples of this famous
Carlovingian school are named in Labarte’s useful book: among them,
especially, the diptych preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of
Milan, and of which a plate is given in the album, _pl._ xiii.; the
two plaques which form the cover of the sacramentary of Metz, now in
the public library at Paris; and a bas-relief of a book of gospels at
Tongres, in the diocese of Liége, remarkable for the simplicity of the
composition, the soberness of its ornamentation and correctness of
design, all of which qualities are frequent characteristics of the work
of the ninth century.

Georgius says that the very ancient _tabulæ eburneæ_ which he saw in
the church of St. Riquier in Picardy (_Centulensi thesauro_), and those
given to his church by Riculfus, bishop of Elne, in Narbonne, A.D. 915,
were sacred diptychs.

Mr. Oldfield gives an excellent selection of Carlovingian ivories in
his catalogue of the casts of the Arundel society, classes 4, 5, and 6.


In the same period we must also place, contrary to the judgment of
Du Sommerard, who would suggest an earlier date, a book cover in the
public library at Amiens, carved with the baptism of Clovis and with
two miracles of Remigius. On the next page is an engraving of this
plaque from Lacroix’s book on the arts of the middle ages. In the
scene of the baptism of Clovis, which occupies the lowest of the three
compartments, the dove is seen descending upon the head of the king
with the famous ampulla and sacred oil used in the coronations of the
sovereigns of France.

It is scarcely necessary perhaps to remark that the holy water buckets
above mentioned, p. 47, are not to be confounded with stoups; the
one was carried by an acolyte in attendance on the priest, the other
fixed against the wall at the entrance of the church. That _situlæ_ or
buckets were made of ivory, and for the especial purpose just named, is
certain from an example preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of
Milan, which is engraved in the appendix to the third volume of Gori’s
Thesaurus. This _situla_ is richly carved with scripture subjects and
round the upper border is incised the legend,

    “Vates Ambrosii Gotfredus dat tibi sancte,
      Vas veniente sacram spargendum Cæsare lympham.”

Gotfred was archbishop of Milan in the year 975.


As time went on, crucifixes, statuettes, triptychs, diptychs, and
other portable helps to private devotion were made in ivory in great
quantity; a consequence probably of the repeated travels of men to
the east during the crusades. The term triptych for religious tablets
composed of a centre piece and of one wing on each side, sufficient
in width when folded to cover the centre, is commonly used in the
description of various collections of ivories, because, whether or
not exactly right, it is perfectly well understood and fully explains
itself. Indeed, although triptych or pentaptych or polyptych may, in
strictness and in its first signification, mean only (as it might
happen) three or five or many leaves fastened together on one side by
hinges or threads like the leaves of a book, yet the name triptych may
be fairly applied to tablets, two of which hinge on the outside edges
of the opposite sides of the third, and are intended to fold across and
cover it. Where these wings are made, in order to surround the centre,
of more than two pieces (and in such cases they generally inclose and
protect also some larger carving or a statuette) the name shrine seems
to be more appropriate and better to describe the object.

Triptychs are spoken of more than once by Anastasius, the author of
the Liber Pontificalis. For example, in his life of pope Hadrian, A.D.
772, he mentions one which had in the centre the face of our Saviour,
and on each wing images of angels. It is greatly to be regretted that
Anastasius is so miserably concise in his description of the marvellous
works of art which he enumerates. We look in vain for any details or
for the name of a single artist.

The use of ivory in the middle ages, from the eighth to the beginning
of the sixteenth century, was not confined to church and pious
purposes. It was adopted for numberless things of common life. Not for
common people perhaps, because its value and rarity were too great; but
for the daily use of wealthy persons. Caskets and coffers, horns, hilts
of weapons, mirror cases, toilet combs, writing-tablets, book-covers,
chessmen and draughtsmen, were either made entirely of ivory, walrus
and elephant, or were largely inlaid and ornamented with it. Examples
of works of each of these kinds are to be found in the South Kensington
museum; and with regard to some of them it is necessary to make a few

First, to take caskets. The most beautiful of these is no. 146, a
work of the fourteenth century. This is richly decorated on the top
and the four sides with subjects taken from romances, then well known
and commonly read. Other caskets may be noticed, nos. 216 and 2440,
which are of earlier date; and nos. 301 and 10, of Spanish work in a
remarkable style, half Saracenic, carrying down to the eleventh or
twelfth century the peculiar treatment and ornamentation shown in the
small admirably executed round box of the caliph Mostanser Billah, no.
217. There are many plaques in the same collection which probably once
formed portions of coffers or caskets; some of them reaching as far
back as the ninth century; but it is not possible to say with certainty
whether they were made originally for that purpose or not.

The most curious and perhaps the most valuable old English casket
existing is in the British museum, which it will be well to notice in
this place before we pass to other examples in the South Kensington
collection. Engravings (kindly lent by Mr. Franks) of two portions of
it are also given.

This casket is of the eighth century, nine inches long, seven and
a half in width, and a trifle more than five inches in height. The
material is not ivory, not even of the walrus, but of the bone of a
whale. Unfortunately it is imperfect and in parts damaged; of the
fourth side only a small piece remains. The cover and the sides are
richly carved in sharp and clear relief with mythical and scripture
subjects; and each panel has a runic inscription within a broad border,
except the top on which one word only is carved, “Ægili.”


The cover has, in a single compartment, men in armour attacking a house
which is defended by a man with a bow and arrow; this panel has been
supposed to refer to some local circumstance, and the name Ægili is
to be read with the two words upon the fourth side, meaning “suffers
deceit” or “treachery.” One side has the myth of Romulus and Remus:
the two infants with the wolf in the middle; on either side shepherds
kneeling, and a legend explaining the subject: “Romulus and Remulus
[Remus] twain brothers outlay [were exposed] close together; a she wolf
fed them in Rome city.” The front of the casket has two compartments;
in one, the giving up the head of St. John the Baptist whose body lies
stretched upon the ground; the other has the offering of the wise men,
with the word “magi” in runes above them. On the back is carved, above,
the storming of Jerusalem and the flight of the Jews, as explained by
the inscription engraved partly in runes, partly in Latin, “Here fight
Titus and the Jews. Here fly from Jerusalem its inhabitants.” Below
are two other subjects; the meaning of them very obscure: to one is
attached the word “doom,” to the other “hostage;” both in runes. Round
the whole casket an inscription is carved, commemorating the taking of
the whale which supplied the bone. This has been translated,

    “The whale’s bones from the fishes flood
      I lifted on Fergen Hill:
      He was gashed to death in his gambols,
      As a-ground he swam in the shallows.”


The name Fergen occurs in a charter of the eleventh century, and has
been identified with the present Ferry-hill, in the county of Durham.

The history of the casket is very short, and cannot be better stated
than in the words of Mr. Stephens from whose book on Runic monuments, a
work of much interest, the above description is abridged. He says that
it “is one of the costliest treasures of English art now in existence.
As a specimen of Northumbrian work and of Northumbrian folk-speech,
it is doubly precious. But we know nothing of its history. Probably,
as the gift of some English priest or layman, it may have lain for
centuries in the treasury of one of the French churches, whence it came
into the hands of a well-known dealer in antiquities in Paris. There it
was happily seen and purchased, some years ago, by our distinguished
archæologist, Aug. W. Franks, Esq. The price given for it was very
great.” The casket has been most liberally presented by Mr. Franks to
the British museum, and the nation (once more to quote Mr. Stephens)
“is now in possession of one of the greatest rarities in Europe.”

There are several other coffers or caskets in the South Kensington
collection especially worthy of remark. Among them the Veroli casket,
no. 216, so called from having been long preserved in the treasury of
the cathedral of Veroli, near Rome, from whence it was obtained in
1861. This is the most perfect example known of a peculiar style of
art which prevailed in some parts of Italy from the latter part of the
eleventh to the end of the twelfth century. At first sight works of
this kind might almost be attributed to a time as early as the third
or fourth century, the imitation of the classic mode of treatment, as
well as the nature often of the subjects themselves, favouring such a
supposition. There seems to be little doubt, however, that they must
all be placed at a much later date.

No one is more entitled to be listened to on any disputed question
about the date of ivory carvings than Mr. Nesbitt. He tells us, in
a very able memoir of St. Peter’s chair at Rome, printed for the
Society of antiquaries (speaking on this very point), that he agrees
with padre Garrucci in the opinion that works like the Veroli casket
date from about the eleventh century. “They are all characterised by
certain peculiarities and mannerisms. Among these are an exaggerated
slenderness of limb, a marked prominence of the knee-joints, and a
way of rendering the hair by a mass of small knobs. The subjects
are generally taken from some mythological story, and some work of
classical art has, in many cases, evidently been copied by the ivory
carver; but the story is often misunderstood and misrepresented, and
the movement of the figures copied with so much exaggeration, as often
to become ridiculous. Animals are generally represented with great
truth and spirit, and in very natural attitudes. The execution is
usually remarkably neat and sharp, and the state of preservation of the
ivory very good.” Caskets of this style and date almost always have the
panels surrounded by the same kind of border filled with rosettes.

[Illustration: H. CAIENA^{cc}, D.]

The ivories inserted in the so-called Chair of St. Peter, just referred
to, are of great importance upon this question. The woodcut shows,
in a general way, its present condition and the arrangement of the
carvings, which represent the labours of Hercules: and the student
should read Mr. Nesbitt’s paper, already quoted from.

There is a very curious plaque in the British museum which is also of
value with regard to the date of such works as the Veroli casket. It
has been perhaps a book-cover, perhaps a panel of a reliquary. The
chief subject is Christ in glory, carved in the stiff Byzantine manner
of the tenth or eleventh century; and in the lower left-hand corner
is a group of boys, having the peculiarities of style just mentioned.
Mr. Nesbitt notices another example which may be found engraved in the
Thesaurus of Gori: “a tablet in the museum at Berlin, on which Christ,
attended by angels, is represented in the usual Byzantine style, while
below are the forty saints in very natural attitudes, and with much
truth and skill.”


The woodcut shows the lid of a small casket of, perhaps, the eleventh
century: Spanish work, during the period of the occupation by the
Moors; and there are frequent references to ivory coffers, caskets, and
boxes, in inventories and other documents of the fourteenth, fifteenth,
and sixteenth centuries. In 1502 the following entry is among the privy
purse expenses of Elizabeth of York: “Item, the same day [the 28th day
of May] to maistres Alianor Johns for money by hir geven in reward to
a servaunt of the lady Lovell for bringing a chest of iverey with the
passion of our Lord thereon: iij _s_ iiij _d_.” This lady Lovell was
probably the wife of Sir Thomas Lovell, treasurer of the household, and
one of the executors of the will of Henry the seventh.

Six or seven caskets are named among the treasures of Lincoln
cathedral in the year 1536: two “with images round about.” In 1518
there belonged to the church of St. Mary Outwich, London, “a box of
eivery, garnyshede with silver” according to “the enventorye of all the
howrnaments” of that parish: and, “item, a box of yvory with xj relyks
therein.” In 1534, “a litill box of ivery bound with gymes [gimmals]
of silver” was among the goods of the guild of the blessed Virgin,
at Boston in Lincolnshire. Nearly a hundred years before there was
“a lytill yvory cofyr with relekys” among the goods belonging to the
church of St. Mary Hill, London.

Going back to earlier times—and not to quote from French or German
documents which have been referred to by foreign writers—we find in
the inventory of the treasures belonging to St. Paul’s cathedral in
1295, “Pixis eburnea fracta in fundo, continens unam parvam pixidem
eburneam vacuam.” “Item, duæ coffræ eburneæ modo vacuæ.” Other caskets
are mentioned; one, small and beautiful, with lock and key and silver
clamps; and several pyxes, containing relics.

So, again, there were in the treasury at Durham, in 1383, “an ivory
casket, containing a vestment of St. John the Baptist;” “a small coffer
of ivory, containing a robe of St. Cuthbert;” and other “ivory caskets
with divers relics.”

Caskets and coffers of this period were not uncommonly decorated with
small painted medallions of coats of arms, or of figures, as in the
woodcut on the next page. Two examples are in the South Kensington
museum, nos. 1618 and 369.


There are in many collections ivory boxes of round shape, which are
commonly set down as having been used for preserving the consecrated
host in tabernacles, or for carrying it to the sick. Frequently,
these may have been originally made for that purpose; but it is
not easy always to determine the fact exactly. The word Pyx in its
earliest meaning included any small box or case, and particularly for
holding ointments or spices; and often, when we find the word used in
inventories of the middle ages, it is further explained as containing
relics or other things. Thus, there was in the Durham treasury in the
fourteenth century “item, a tooth of St. Gengulphus, good for the
falling sickness, in a small ivory pyx”; and in St. Paul’s cathedral,
about the same time, two ivory pyxes, one containing relics of St.
Augustine, the other of St. Agnes. Nor is the size a sure guide to
determine the doubt: although by many people all small round boxes
of ivory would seem to be understood as having been certainly used
for preserving the eucharist. Du Cange quotes from Leo Ostiensis, “in
pyxidulis reliquiæ sanctorum reconditæ sunt.” On the other hand, there
can be no question that for many centuries, and more especially in the
earlier ages, round boxes of ivory were in constant and general use for
preserving and carrying the Sacrament. Thus we see included amongst
the property belonging to the church of St. Faith, under St. Paul’s,
“una cupa cuprea deaurata, cum pyxide eburnea sine serura interius
clausa, in qua reponatur eucharistia.” From Waddingham, in Norfolk, the
queen’s commissioners report in 1565 that they have destroyed “one pyx
of yvorie, broken in peces.” The following also may be quoted from the
will of king Henry the seventh, though the material is not specified:
“Forasmuch as we have often to our inwarde displeasure, seen in diverse
churches of oure Reame, the holy Sacrament kept in ful simple and
inhonest pixes, we have commaunded to cause to be made furthwith pixes,
in a greate nombre, after the fashion of a pixe which we have caused to
be delyvered to theym, etc.”

When, therefore, we find a small round box which is ornamented with
subjects from the Gospel or with divine types and emblems or the like,
we may safely call it a pyx, in its proper ecclesiastical meaning.
When an example is carved with subjects relating to any saint it may
or may not have been made for a sacramental pyx: it may indeed have
been changed from its first use as a reliquary and afterwards employed
for the more sacred use. Of this kind, perhaps, is the very curious
round box of the sixth century with subjects from the life of St.
Mennas, exhibited in 1871 by Mr. Nesbitt at a meeting of the Society of
antiquaries; which is further remarkable as being the earliest known
representation on an ivory box of events in the life of a saint.

Du Cange gives references to three English provincial synods of the
thirteenth century, as if ivory pyxes were distinctly ordered by their
canons. But it is not so. Order is merely given that the Sacrament
should be reserved and carried to the sick in proper pyxes: “in pyxide
munda et honesta;” again, “circa collum suum in theca honesta, pyxidem
deferat.” But the synod of Exeter in 1287 is more precise and to our
present purpose, which orders the priest to carry the eucharist to the
sick “in pyxide argentea vel eburnea.”

We find from inventories printed by Dugdale in the Monasticon that in
the fourteenth century, A.D. 1384, there were in the treasury of St.
George’s, Windsor, “una pixis nobilis eburnea, garnita cum luminibus
argenteis deauratis,” etc.: and “una pixis de eburneo gemellato
argenteo, cujus coopertorium frangitur.” In Lincoln cathedral, in 1557,
“A round pix of ivory, having a ring of silver;” and two others, both
of ivory with similar bands. Four other ivory pyxes are named in the
earlier inventory of the same cathedral, before the spoliation in 1536.

Two other very important and beautiful caskets, at South Kensington,
are no. 176 and no. 263. The subject of the first of these, the life
of the blessed Virgin, is unusual, although that may probably be not
because it was unusual at the time but because very few examples have
been preserved. The panels of the other are most richly carved and in
the best style of the fourteenth century with scenes from the life of
St. Margaret.


The famous romances of the middle ages supplied endless subjects for
sculptors in ivory as well as for the painter, the illuminator, and
the enameller. They may be referred, in general, to four classes, of
which the first and the fourth seem to have been the favourite sources
from which were taken the decorations of caskets and mirror cases. They
were— 1. Those relating to Arthur and the knights of the round table.
2. Those connected with Charlemagne and his paladins. 3. The Spanish
and Portuguese romances, which chiefly contain the adventures of Amadis
and Palmerin. 4. What may be termed classical romances, which represent
the heroes of antiquity in the guise of romantic fiction: such, for
example, as the romance of Virgil, of Jason, or of Alexander. To these
may be added one more, the romance of the Rose, an allegorical poem
which was probably more widely read than any other of the time. From
this, realising an allegory, came the frequent subject of the siege of
the castle of Love. Many of the romances were written both in prose
and verse: three splendid volumes, French manuscripts of the beginning
of the fourteenth century, in the British museum, contain the Saint
Graal and Lancelot du Lac. The histories of Merlin, Perceval, Meliadus,
Tristan, and Perceforest were also amongst the most popular.

The French manuscripts just referred to (_additional_, 10,292) are full
of illuminations, some illustrating in an especial way the carvings on
ivories of the same date. Another, of the same character and of like
interest and value, is in the Bodleian: the romance of Alexander.

The romance of the Rose was a dull and monotonous poem of perhaps ten
thousand lines, from which for nearly three hundred years its readers,
if they looked at it with pious and religious eyes, learnt their maxims
of morality, of science, and philosophy. Others, again, read it as
men now read Ovid’s Art of love and saw nothing of its mysticism or
scholastic subtleties. It was written somewhere about the year 1300,
and, with the omission of some five thousand lines in the middle,
Chaucer’s translation is very accurate and good. It was frequently
moralised: in France, by Clement Marot; and in England (perhaps from
the French also) long before, by Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln. These
made the Rose to be the Virgin Mary, and the towers and the defences
of the castle are the four cardinal virtues, and holy chastity, and
buxomness, and meekness. The castle itself is thus described:

    “This is the castel of love and lisse,
     Of solace, of socour, of joye, and blisse,
     Of hope, of hele, of sikernesse,
     And ful of alle swetnesse.”

Among the many fictions which were founded on the traditions of king
Arthur none were more common or better known than those which related
the love adventures of Lancelot and queen Guinevre; and of Tristan and
Isoude, the queen of Mark king of Cornwall. Subjects from both these
tales are frequent on ivory caskets and mirror cases. The disgrace
of Aristotle comes from the romance of Alexander; and from that of
Virgil we have the poet in his mediæval character of magician. Both the
poet and the philosopher, in spite of their great age and wisdom, are
made fools of by the ladies of the story. One is induced to carry his
mistress on his back, the other is hauled up in a basket to a window
and left there dangling at sunrise before all the people.

We must not leave caskets without mention of the very graceful open
work with which the panels of many of them were often decorated, and
which have come down to us (speaking generally) only in parts or
fragments. Two woodcuts are given here, full size, from a series of
small panels, formerly in the Meyrick collection, which is, unhappily,
now dispersed.



The South Kensington museum is rich also in the marriage coffers, as
they are commonly called, of Italian work of about the fourteenth
century. Coffers of this kind, such, for example, as the small casket
(in the two woodcuts) no. 2563, were seldom executed in ivory: almost
always in bone of fine quality, sometimes nearly equal to ivory in
delicacy of grain and colour. It is probably owing to their general use
in Italy at that time that ivory could not be obtained in sufficient
quantity, except at great cost; for the workmanship is frequently that
of artists who must have been of the highest eminence as sculptors. One
of the most interesting of the marriage caskets in the South Kensington
museum is no. 5624, formerly in the Soulages collection, of which there
is almost a duplicate in the public library at Paris.

Lenormant, in the Trésor de glyptique, has given three plates of the
Paris casket and says also that another, exactly like it was (when he
wrote) in the possession of M. D’Assy, of Meaux.

The largest casket of this kind in England is in the possession of Mr.
Julian Goldsmid. It is in excellent preservation and well finished in
every respect. The size is certainly unusual: two feet three inches
in height, two feet and a half long, and two feet broad. The separate
bones which ornament it are filled with shields and armorial bearings;
ten on the front and back, seven on each side. The mouldings at the
top are richly decorated with bold scrolls of foliage and animals.
The top of the coffer and the side mouldings are marquetry, inlaid in
diamond-shaped quarries with large pieces of bone.

A coffer of the same school and date, not much less in size and of much
higher quality and workmanship, is in private possession at Leamington,
in Warwickshire. The sides are filled with small statuettes admirably
executed, and perhaps giving the history of some poem or romance. This
is, probably, the best example of Italian marriage coffers in this

M. Lenormant also refers, as of the same school, to the magnificent
Retable de Poissy, in the museum of the Louvre, of which Sir D. Wyatt
has given the following description: “It was made for Jean de Berry
brother of Charles V. and for his second wife, Jeanne, countess of
Auvergne. They are represented on it kneeling, and accompanied by
their patron saints. It is no less than seven feet six inches wide,
and is one mass of carving. It consists of three arcades, surmounted
by canopies, and supported by angle pilasters and a base. The subjects
are taken from the New Testament and from the legends of the saints.
It is believed [there can, rather, be no doubt] that it is of Italian
workmanship, the little figures having much Giottesque character in
their treatment.” This famous retable is, like the marriage caskets,
carved in bone.


There is no finer specimen of this style and work than the beautiful
predella, formerly in the Gigli-Campana collection, now at South
Kensington, no. 7611. It is, unfortunately, not perfect; the centre
panel is a later addition and the original piece has been lost. It is
possible that there were at one time also other smaller panels. The
woodcut shows well the general style of these carvings in bone.

The French and English caskets of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries were frequently ornamented, like the mirror cases, the
combs, and the writing-tablets, with domestic scenes. We have ladies
and gentlemen sometimes represented playing at chess or draughts or
similar games; sometimes riding, or hawking, or hunting; sometimes
in gardens with birds and dogs; sometimes dancing. Subjects of this
character are of great importance and interest, no less valuable than
illuminations in manuscripts, as showing the dress and the armour and,
to a considerable extent, the manners and customs of the day.

One other class of subjects may be noticed which supplied the
decorations of caskets of the fifteenth century, and which is found
occasionally on panels of cabinets or the larger kind of household
furniture; namely, morris dancers and women playing on musical
instruments. Generally, carvings of this description are found upon
bone: two examples are in the South Kensington museum, no. 4660 and no.
6747. There was also one in the Meyrick collection, of which a woodcut
is given on the next page.

Domestic subjects are of more common occurrence upon combs and mirror
cases than on caskets; and, upon the former, scenes also from early
legends; occasionally, some circumstance from Scripture. Of Scripture
subjects the message from David to Bathsheba is the most frequent;
probably, because Bathsheba is represented generally in her bath. There
are two examples in the South Kensington museum alone: no. 2143 and no.
468. It is not difficult to understand why scenes from the old story of
the fountain of Youth should have been a favourite subject.

It may be observed that the garden scenes on ivory combs remind us
often of the beautiful painting of the “Dream of life” by Orcagna, in
the Campo santo, at Pisa.


Combs of ivory and bone are frequently found in tombs of the Roman and
Anglo-saxon period in England; and before that time in British graves.
They are often tinged and coloured green, from lying in contact with
metal objects. A very curious one, in the shape of a hand, was mixed
with the remains buried in a Pict’s house in the north of Scotland;
a double tooth-comb was found on the site of the Roman station at
Chesterford, in Essex; and (to name no more of this kind, for the
specimens are very many) an ivory comb was among the relics in the
tomb said to be of St. Cuthbert, at Durham. Mr. Raine also prints an
inventory (dated 1383) of relics at Durham, among which are the comb of
Malachias the archbishop, the comb of St. Boysil the priest, and the
ivory comb of St. Dunstan. Somewhat later than this date is an entry
in the register of the cathedral of Glasgow, where a precious burse is
mentioned with the combs of St. Kentigern and St. Thomas of Canterbury.

A very curious comb, but much mutilated, is preserved in the library
of the Society of antiquaries. It was exhibited in 1764 and engraved
in the 8th vol. of the Archæologia. The statement is that it was found
deeply buried under a street in Aberdeen, and supposed to have been
lost there in the time of Edward III. who burnt the city. But the type
of the ornaments upon it is of an earlier character than that date.

The comb given by queen Theodolinda at the end of the sixth century to
the church of Monza is still kept.

This last would be a ceremonial comb, used formerly by a bishop
before celebrating high mass or before other great functions, and
included among the vestments and ceremonial ornaments of a bishop of
England down to the reign of Edward the sixth. “Tobalia et pecten ad
pectinandum” were ordered to be provided for the consecration of a
bishop elect, in the Sarum pontifical. One of the earliest of these
combs now known to exist is in the treasury of the cathedral of Sens,
and said to be of the sixth century. Another, English and of the
eleventh century, is in the British museum. It is carved in open work
with men and interlacing scroll ornament. Unhappily, it is not perfect.
A woodcut is given on the next page of this very important ivory.

Another, richly carved with subjects from the gospels, is said to be
preserved at Hardwick court, in Gloucestershire. Such ceremonial combs
are often mentioned in church inventories and other ecclesiastical
documents of the middle ages. Seven or eight are specified as belonging
to St. Paul’s cathedral in the year 1222: three large, three small;
one “pecten pulchrum” the gift of John de Chishulle; and three others;
all of ivory. There were as many in the treasury of the cathedral of
Canterbury, in 1315.


When the supposed tomb of St. Cuthbert was opened in 1827 it has been
already said that there was found, among other relics deposited with
the body of the saint, an ivory comb. This comb has a double row of
teeth, divided by a broad plain band perforated in the middle with a
round hole for the finger. In size it measures six inches and a quarter
by five inches. The historian of the proceedings on that occasion says
that the comb is probably of the eleventh century, but he gives no
reason; and if the grave were really the grave of St. Cuthbert it is
almost certain that the comb was his and used by him, ceremonially, as


The examples in the South Kensington collection were all made for
private use, and the woodcut represents an Italian specimen, no.
2144. English family inventories from the fourteenth to the sixteenth
century, occasionally include combs of that kind. To name one only:
the list of the effects of Roger de Mortimer at Wigmore castle, in the
reign of Edward the second, specifies “j pecten de ebore.”

One half only of the mirror cases, speaking generally, has been
preserved. It is very rare to find both covers. Originally, the mirror
was fastened to one side, and the other slid over it or was unscrewed.
No example of both parts is in the South Kensington collection, and
only one (it is believed) in the British museum. People, as time went
on, probably thought that an unornamented side was not worth taking
care of.

We find the subjects sculptured on mirror cases to be almost always
scenes from domestic life, or from some poem or romance. Naturally
it would be so. The only exceptions among all the examples at South
Kensington are two, on one of which is a representation of the Almighty
Father and the dead Christ, on the other the message of David to
Bathsheba. The rest, ten or twelve in number, have hunting and garden
scenes, or players at chess, or assaults on the castle of Love. So it
is also with the large collection of ivory mirror cases in the British

The use of small mirrors is to be traced to the earliest historic
period, and to be found among almost every people of the world. In the
most ancient times they were commonly of metal; and it is believed that
none, except of that material, has yet been found in any tomb of Egypt,
or Greece, or Italy. These, unlike the mediæval mirror, had generally
flat and broad handles, and the backs were often incised with various
designs, mythological subjects, gods and goddesses, or from stories of
the poets.

Many metallic mirrors have been found in Roman burial-places in
England. Several are described in modern archæological publications;
one especially curious, found in 1823 at Coddenham in Suffolk. This
is important as an early example in respect of the smallness of its
size and because it is enclosed in a case. It “is a portable trinket,
consisting of a thin circular bronze case, divided horizontally into
two nearly equal portions, which fit one into the other; and, being
opened, it presents a convex mirror in each face of the interior.” The
diameter is scarcely more than two inches, and on one side is the head
of the emperor Nero.

Anglo-saxon mirrors have seldom been found. Two, both discovered in a
barrow near Sandwich, are engraved in the _Nenia Britannica_. Mirrors
were nevertheless commonly used by ladies at that time; and there is a
letter preserved in Bede from pope Boniface IV. to Ethelberga, queen of
Edwin of Northumbria in 625, wherein he requests her acceptance of an
ivory comb and a silver mirror. Combs and mirrors are frequent on the
sculptured stones of Scotland; they occur on more than fifty, according
to a table given in the preface to the admirable work published by the
Spalding club; and seven stones have representations of mirror cases.

Dr. Stuart in a short paper upon these sculptures, read before the
International congress of prehistoric archæology in 1868, assigns to
them a date not later than the seventh, eighth, or ninth century, and
believes that the figures on the rude pillars may be of even an earlier
date, before Christian times.

It is not known when glass covered at the back with lead was introduced
in place of the earlier metallic mirror. Probably some of the cases
which are in various collections were the covers of the new material.
John Peckham, an Englishman, wrote in the middle of the thirteenth
century a treatise on optics in which he speaks not only of steel
mirrors but often of glass mirrors, and adds that when the lead was
scraped off the back no image was reflected.

There is, or perhaps was 150 years ago, a curious coat of arms in a
painted window of the fourteenth century, in the chancel of the church
of Thame in Oxfordshire, on which was blazoned a mirror in a case with
a handle attached to it. “He beareth _argent_,” says Guillim in his
Display of heraldry, “a tyger passant, regardant, gazing in a mirror
or looking-glass, all _proper_.... Some report, that those who rob the
tiger of her young, use a policy to detain their dam from following
them, by casting sundry looking-glasses in the way, whereat she useth
long to gaze, etc.”

Ladies using mirrors at their toilet frequently form a subject for
illustration in fourteenth century manuscripts. These mirrors are
precisely of the usual shape and size of those which have come down to
us in ivory. Several may be seen in the manuscript romance of Lancelot
du Lac in the British museum: in one, a lady lying on a couch holds the
mirror in her hand whilst an attendant dresses her hair with a comb;
in another, she herself uses both mirror and comb. A hundred years
later the same design was engraved on one of a pack of cards, “_la
damoiselle_,” by “the Master of 1466,” now in the national library at

Love scenes, as in the etching, or the siege of the castle of Love
are subjects often found on mirror cases. The woodcut on this page is
copied from an example at South Kensington, no. 1617. Another copy of
the same romance of Lancelot, which has been just referred to, has an
illumination of a real assault upon a castle, treated in a similar
manner. Knights place ladders against the wall; the battlements are
defended by the garrison; the attack is made with cross-bows and a
catapult; and men lie dead upon the ground. Another of much interest is
given as “the twelfth battle” in the manuscript in the British museum
so well known as queen Mary’s psalter, written about the year 1320;
in this, women look at the attack over the battlements of the town or



2.K.M (N^o 210.65) D. JONES _FECIT_.]


Knights tilting, or a tournament, or ladies and gentlemen riding
through woods and preceded by attendants with dogs, are also common
subjects. The contemporary manuscripts illustrate the same design. Both
on the mirror cases and in the illuminations the lady is generally
seen riding astride. Women are so represented more than once in the
romance of Lancelot: for example _fol._ 120_a_, and 163_a_. A queen is
riding, _fol._ 181_b_. In queen Mary’s psalter, the treatment on the
mirror cases of people riding is almost exactly repeated, _fol._ 217;
again, 218_b_, and 223_b_. Other examples may be seen in the Bodleian
manuscript of the romance of Alexander, _fol._ 100 and 130. The same
custom lasted in Lithuania until, at least, the year 1800.

There is one other ornamental design very common on mirror cases;
people playing at chess or draughts. Margaret Paston writes in the
reign of Richard the third to her husband, and says that at the
Christmas following the death of lord Morley his widow would permit no
amusements in her house, “non dysgysyngs ner harpyng ner lutyng—but
pleying at the tabyllys and schesse.” This brings us to an interesting
and important class of carvings in ivory.

The date of the introduction of the games of chess and draughts into
Europe, and more particularly among the northern nations and our own
ancestors the Anglo-saxons, is a historical question upon which there
has been great dispute. The game of chess was certainly played at a
very early period in the east, and from thence probably passed through
the Arabs into Greece. There are allusions to chess and chessmen
in many writers before the twelfth century, and these incidental
references are of more value than the positive assertions which later
authors, after the manner of their day, did not hesitate to advance.

For example Caxton, or rather the author of the “Playe of the Chesse.”
“This playe fonde a phylosopher of thoryent whych was named in
caldee Exerces, for which is as moche to say in englissh as he that
louyth Justyce and mesure.” And this decision was not without due
consideration of the matter; for just before we are told: “Trewe it
is that somme men wene that this play was founden in the tyme of the
bataylles and siege of troye. But that is not so.... After that cam
this playe in the tyme of Alixaunder the grete in to egypt, and so unto
alle the parties toward the south.”

This treatise on chess is said to have been written nearly two hundred
years before Caxton lived by Jacobus de Casulis, a French Dominican
friar, about 1290. A copy is in the British museum, MS. Harl. 1275; and
it was printed at Milan in 1479.

Chaucer however, in “the Dreame,” names not Exerces but Athalus as the
supposed inventor of the game, in a passage worth quoting:

    “Therewith Fortune saith, check here,
     And mate in the mid point of the checkere,
     With a pawne errant, alas,
     Ful craftier to playe she was
     Than Athalus that made the game,
     First to the chesse, so was his name.”

We may, however, put aside the old guesses of early writers, for
evidence still exists which sets at rest all doubt that chess was known
and played in France in Carlovingian times, and we can understand
easily, therefore, why mediæval poets and romance writers so often
introduced stories about the game. Some ivory chessmen, six in number,
were long preserved in the treasury of the abbey of St. Denis, and
the old tradition was that they were given with the chess-table by
Charlemagne himself. The greater number of the pieces and the table
had been lost for many years, as long ago as 1600. The remainder,
transferred at the revolution from St. Denis, are now in the public
library at Paris. Sir Frederic Madden, in a very able and learned paper
in the Archæologia, says of them: “The dresses and ornaments are all
strictly in keeping with the Greek _costume_ of the ninth century; and
it is impossible not to be convinced, from the general character of the
figures, that these chessmen really belong to the period assigned them
by tradition, and were, in all probability, executed at Constantinople
by an Asiatic Greek, and sent as a present to Charlemagne, either by
the empress Irene, or by her successor Nicephorus.... One thing is
certain, that these chessmen, from their size and workmanship, must
have been designed for no ignoble personage: and, from the decided
style of Greek art, it is a more natural inference to suppose them
presented to Charlemagne by a sovereign of the lower empire, than that
they came to him as an offering from the Moorish princes of Spain, or
even from the caliph Haroun al Raschid, who gave many costly gifts to
the emperor of the west.”

In the East India museum almost a complete set of ivory chessmen is
preserved, perhaps the most ancient examples now known to exist:
older even than the chessmen from St. Denis. These were found about
twenty years ago, mixed with a quantity of broken pottery, human
bones, and other relics, amongst the ruins of some houses excavated
on the site of the city of Brahmunabad in Sind, which was destroyed
by an earthquake in the eighth century. The pieces are turned; plain
in character, without ornament. Several are in a very fragile state,
having perished in the same way as the Assyrian ivories; and an attempt
should be made to restore, if possible, some of the lost substance.
A few fragments of a chessboard were also found, incised with small
circles, not interlacing. The chessmen and the squares of the board are
black and white: ivory and ebony. The kings and queens are about three
inches high; the pawns one inch; and the other pieces are of different
intermediate heights. Coins were also found of the caliphs of Bagdad,
about A.D. 750.

The mediæval chronicles, poems, and romances are full of references
to the game. The anonymous author of the history of Ramsey monastery,
writing about the year 1100, tells us that bishop Ætheric coming late
one night to king Canute found him still playing chess, “regem adhuc
scaccorum ludo longioris tædia noctis relevantem invenit.” Strutt
quotes this passage in his sports and pastimes; and Sir F. Madden adds
the following translation from a French manuscript of the thirteenth
century. It is much to our present purpose, in illustration of the
legends whence the subjects of mirror decorations were derived:—

    “Orgar was playing at the chess,
     A game he had learned of the Danes;
     With him played the fair Elstrueth,
     A fairer maiden was not under heaven.”

The story is of a mission from king Edgar to earl Orgar in the tenth

Chaucer again tells us how

    “They dancen and they play at ches and tables;”

and in the merchant’s second tale he describes a chessboard:—

    “So when they had ydyned, the cloth was up ytake,
      A ches ther was ybrought forth; ...
      The ches was all of ivory, the meyne fresh and new,
      Ipulshid and ypikid, of white, asure, and blue.”

A very curious passage occurs in a book originally written in French,
in April 1371, and translated about the reign of Henry the sixth: a
copy is in the British museum; _Harl._ 1764. “There was a gentille
knight’s daughter that wratthed atte the tables with a gentill man that
was riotous and comberous and hadd an evelle hede, and the debate was
on a point that he plaide, that she saide that it was wronge: and so
the wordes and the debate rose so that she saide that he was a lewde
[ignorant] fole, and thane lost the game in chiding.”

Chess-tables and chessmen are often specified in wills and inventories.
The inventory of the effects of Sir Roger de Mortimer, referred to
more than once, speaks of a coffer containing “j famil’ de ebore pro
scaccario;” and among the jewels in the wardrobe book of Edward the
first occur “una familia de ebore pro ludendo ad scaccarium,” and “una
familia pro scaccario de jaspide et cristallo.” The “familia” in these
entries is the same as the “meyne” in Chaucer’s lines just above; that
is, the retinue, the company, or the set of domestics.


To quote from one will; Sir William Compton in his will, dated 1523
bequeathed to Henry the eighth “a little chest of ivory whereof one
lock is gilt, with a chessboard under the same, and a pair of tables
upon it, and all such jewels and treasures as are enclosed therein.”

The most complete set of ancient ivory chessmen now remaining was found
in the isle of Lewis, in Scotland, about the year 1831, and most of
them are now in the British museum. They are all of one character,
similar to the accompanying woodcut, which is engraved from another
walrus-ivory chessman, also in the British museum, and which was
obtained some few years ago from a private collection.

It would be more proper to speak of the Lewis chess pieces as several
sets, for there are some pieces enough for five or six. They are
sixty-seven in number—six kings, five queens, thirteen bishops,
fourteen knights, nineteen pawns, and ten (so-called) warders, which
took the place of the modern rook or castle. This large collection
was discovered by a labourer digging a sandbank, and every piece is
accurately described in detail by Sir F. Madden in a paper read before
the Society of antiquaries in 1832. They are all carved out of walrus

Upon this material Sir Frederic observes that “the estimation in which
the teeth of the walrus were held by the northern nations rendered
them a present worthy of royalty; and this circumstance is confirmed
by a tradition preserved in the curious saga of Kröka the crafty, who
lived in the tenth century.” [The saga itself is believed to have
been written in the fourteenth century.] “It is there related, that
Gunner, prefect of Greenland, wishing to conciliate the favour of
Harald Hardraad, king of Norway (A.D. 1050), sent him the three most
precious gifts the island could produce. These were, 1, a white bear;
2, a _chess-table_, or set of _chessmen_, exquisitely carved; 3, a
skull of the Rostungr (or _walrus_) with the teeth fastened in it,
and ornamented with gold.” The best Icelandic scholars take the term
_Tan-Tabl_ in the sense of _chessmen made of the teeth of the walrus_.


Chessmen were occasionally made of considerably larger size. There is a
good example of this kind in the South Kensington collection, no. 8987;
and another, of which a woodcut is given, is in the British museum.
This last remarkable piece was presented in 1856, by Sir Henry Cole.

Scarcely less common than chessmen are small round pieces, generally
of the tusk of the walrus, which were used for a game probably like
the modern game of draughts, and to which frequent allusion is found
in mediæval books under the name of “tables.” The mirror cases give
us several representations of people engaged at this game, usually
a lady and a gentleman. There seem to have been fewer pieces used
than in our own days, and a smaller board or table. These draughtsmen
are almost all of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries;
and the subjects men and animals, with scroll ornament interlacing.
Occasionally a single bird or a dragon fills the centre space.

Some of the decorations of the old church of Shobdon in Herefordshire
(pulled down about 100 years ago) were similar to the carvings upon
the draughtsmen and other works of that kind. These also were of the
twelfth century. One pillar was ornamented with a series of small
medallions tied together, exactly like the old draughtsmen. They
are engraved, from fragments of three of the principal arches still
preserved, in the first volume of the Archæological journal.


This style of ornament is shown to great advantage upon the arm of
a chair of the eleventh or twelfth century, formerly in the Meyrick
collection; carved from two tusks of the walrus. It is not easy to
decide in what country this very important ivory was worked. One half
of it is given in the accompanying woodcut. The name, arm of a chair,
must be taken as a probable supposition. That it is one of a pair is
apparently certain: for in the centre on one side is an eagle, on the
other a winged lion; two of the four symbols of the Evangelists. These
are deeply sunk and enclosed in ornamental borders, exactly similar
to the draughtsmen of the same period. The sides from the centres to
the ends are richly carved in admirable style and workmanship with an
interlacing scroll ornament, in the midst of which are twined men and
fabulous animals. The ends have, for terminations, the heads of lions
designed with much spirit. On the under side, which is left perfectly
flat, are incised some small crosses, composed of the well-known little
circles called the bone ornament. There are other good examples of the
same style of decoration upon the specimens of the ancient Tau in the
South Kensington museum. In all of these, though the men and animals
are grotesque yet they have life and movement, and the foliage and
branches with which they are twined and intermingled are well executed.
The technical merit of the carving, deep in relief and often cut clear
from the solid substance of the ivory, is very remarkable.



Although it is impossible to enter in detail into any history of an
object so well known, by name at least, as the pastoral crook of a
bishop, it may yet be not without interest to offer a few remarks upon
it in explanation of the varieties of shape of old ivory croziers still
existing, and as a subject not without interest in our own days to
many people. The Tau, spoken of in the last chapter, is but a form of
the pastoral staff, adopted in more than one country of western Europe
early in the middle ages.

The most ancient shape of the episcopal staff is found represented in
the catacombs; a short handle, with a plain boss or oval knob bent
aside at the top like the pagan _lituus_. Sometimes in the catacombs we
also find the truer form of a shepherd’s crook, a plain but complete
curve at the extremity. The Tau is commonly seen and given without
apparent distinction to bishops and abbots in manuscripts of the
eighth and ninth centuries, about which period there came in another
fashion, unpleasing and hardly intelligible in its design, where the
crook is but slightly bent and extended almost horizontally from the
staff itself. One more shape, and more rare, was a double plain crook
like horns joined together. After all these came the admirable design,
of which the South Kensington museum possesses one or two splendid
examples, wherein the volute is carried half round again and frequently
contains within the circle other ornaments or groups of figures.

12^{th} CENT (SOLTIKOFF COLL) L, 5 IN S. K. M. (N^o 215 ’65)


The extremities of the Taus were often hollowed, to receive relics.
The beautiful Tau now at Kensington, engraved in the etching,
shows the old recesses; but the crystal ends are lost. It is of
this Tau that a learned author writes as follows, in the Mélanges
archéologiques:—“Avant de quitter ce beau monument, je ferai observer
la riche ciselure du treillis séparant les signes. Il est à peine
croyable que chaque petite perle d’ivoire le long des entrelacs
enchâsse une pierre précieuse, et que les yeux des animaux sont ainsi
formés.” A very fine ivory of the same admirable kind and style is
preserved in the library at Rouen, probably of earlier date, of the
tenth century; and another is in the Cluny museum, unusually simple in
shape and plain in ornament, which was found at St. Germain-des-Prés in
the tomb of Morard, abbot of that monastery from 990 to 1014. In the
etching is another Tau, also at Kensington.

Ivory Taus are of great rarity. They were gradually superseded towards
the end of the twelfth century by that form which, with certain
varieties of ornament, has continued down to our own times. The most
common mode of treating the volute itself was to imitate a serpent; and
the termination of the crook was the head of the serpent, sometimes
with widely-expanded jaws.

It may appear unreasonable that the serpent was so constantly used as a
religious emblem in such a way; but the symbol was certainly adopted in
Christian art and with several pious significations from the first ages
of the Christian faith. As the chief decoration of a bishop’s pastoral
staff it might be regarded as an emblem of prudence, or as a record of
the rod of Moses, which was changed into a serpent and destroyed those
which had been cast down by the magicians; or again, as an emblem of
the subtlety or wisdom required in a ruler over Christ’s flock. When
the serpent is also chained or entangled, then, perhaps, the triumph of
the Church over Satan is symbolised; or the contest itself between the
two, when the head and open jaws seem to be on the point of closing
over the lamb and cross, as in the pastoral staff of the Ashmolean
museum at Oxford. Once more, the triumph would be shown when our Lord
in glory is represented within the sweep of the serpent’s body. It is
also probable that the men twisted and twined with serpents and animals
and branches of trees, in the older examples, were meant to typify the
struggle against the evil influences of the world, the flesh, and the

The triumph of Christianity over the world is of a class of ornament
which was largely introduced towards the middle of the thirteenth
century, and which included others of a like character: such as,
especially, the Crucifixion (as in the etching) or the Virgin standing
with the Child in her arms, sometimes attended by angels, or the
adoration of the Magi; and, a little later, the coronation of the
Virgin; or the destruction of the dragon by the archangel Michael.

The author of the paper in the Mélanges d’archéologie speaks of a
pastoral staff of ivory having “the Coronation” so early as the time
of St. Gautier, abbot of St. Martin de Pontoise about 1070, to whom
it is attributed. An engraving of it is in that publication; and it
is worthy of especial notice because, although of wood, the handle is
not only enriched with decorations like the handle of the fan at South
Kensington, no. 373 and the corresponding piece in the British museum,
but the ornaments are placed within exactly similar small square

Sometimes the volutes of croziers were filled merely with foliage and
twisted branches; but these were more commonly of copper or silver, for
the further purpose of being enamelled.

We must not fail to observe how cleverly in many of the mediæval ivory
heads of bishops’ staffs the volute is occupied by a double subject,
placed back to back, so that one of the two might face the people as
it was borne along. These are generally, on one side the Crucifixion,
on the other the Virgin and Child. The figures standing upon the one
side on either hand of the cross are carved on the reverse as angels
in attendance on the Virgin. This is well shown in the woodcut, from a
pastoral staff of the thirteenth century, preserved in the cathedral at




In remote times the pastoral staff of a bishop was usually made of
wood; at least, we may suppose so from the jest of Guy Coquille:—

    “Au temps passé du siècle d’or,
      Crosse de bois, évêque d’or;
      Maintenant, changeant les lois,
      Crosse d’or, évêque de bois.”

These lines are not, perhaps, all in jest, for the wooden staff of St.
Erhard exists at Ratisbonne: and another is in the church of St. Ursula
at Cologne. The two Benedictines in their famous travels (as recorded
in the “Voyage littéraire”) come to Maurienne, and tell us: “Nous
vîmes aussi dans le trésor une croce d’yvoire: car les anciens évêques
aimoient mieux employer leur argent à soulager les pauvres, qu’en des
ornemens vains et superflus.” They saw other ivory pastoral staffs
before their journeys ended: one at Marseilles, in the abbey of St.
Victor; and one of the eleventh century at St. Savin, in the diocese of
Tarbes; another, worthy of special mention, at Cluny: “La croce de S.
Hugue, qui est de bois couvert de feuilles d’argent, dont le dessus est

In later days the use of wood was generally limited to the staffs
and croziers which were buried in their graves with archbishops and
bishops, abbots and abbesses. A few of these have been found: one, very
remarkable and in a fair state of preservation, in Westminster abbey
in the tomb of bishop Lyndwood, the great canonist. This is now in
the British museum. A full account of the opening of this tomb, with
engravings, is printed in one of the volumes of the Archæologia.

Probably the pastoral staff mentioned in the will of Richard Martyn
bishop of St. David’s, who died about the year 1498, was of wood. He
bequeathed to the church of Lyde “the cross-hed that Oliver the joiner

Inscriptions are sometimes found upon ivory pastoral staffs. For
example on that of St. Aunon, archbishop of Cologne: “Sterne
resistentes, stantes rege, tolle jacentes;” others on those of St.
Saturnin at Toulouse, and of Otho, bishop of Hildesheim.

The old Sarum pontificals order, in the first rubric for consecrating a
bishop, that the _baculus pastoralis_ should be provided with the other
necessary episcopal ornaments and vestments; and the staff is delivered
to the new bishop in the course of the office. “_Quum datur baculus
dicat ordinator_, Accipe baculum pastoralis officii,” etc., and the
purpose is further alluded to as the ceremony proceeds.

The symbolism of the shape and ornaments of the ivory pastoral staffs
is clearly explained by Hugo St. Victor: “Episcopo, dum regimen
ecclesiæ committitur, baculus quasi pastori traditur, in quo tria
notantur, quæ significatione non carent, recurvitas, virga, cuspis;
significatio hoc carmine continetur:—

    “Attraho peccantes, justos rogo, pungo vagantes,
     Officio triplici servio pontifici.”

It remains only to notice that the Pope uses neither pastoral staff
nor crozier, nor is it delivered to him at his consecration, if at
his election he be only a simple priest. It is said, however, that
he should carry one in the diocese of Treves because St. Peter gave
his own to the first bishop of that place, where it is preserved as a
famous relic. This tradition is mentioned by St. Thomas Aquinas: “Et
ideo in diœcesi Treverensi papa baculum portat, et non in aliis.”

An engraving is given (p. 90) of the head of a pastoral staff, rather
more than five inches in height, not only unusual and remarkable in
style but probably of English work. This was preserved in the Meyrick
collection and is carved from bone. The outside of the upright part and
the volute are decorated with pierced work, now slightly mutilated.
Inside the volute, which terminates with the open mouth of a serpent,
is a man in a grotesque position, his feet within the serpent’s jaws. A
rich interlaced scroll decorates both sides of the head of the staff.


It is perhaps not to be wondered at that a Tau should be, as we
know it is, amongst the most rare of ornaments or utensils in ivory
which have been preserved. The early and total disuse of them would
have naturally led to their destruction and loss, sometimes wilful,
sometimes accidental. But that the pastoral staff (that is, the head of
it) should be of almost equal rarity is less easily to be explained.
Few collections possess a good example; still fewer more than one.
Nevertheless, in England alone pastoral staffs must have been almost
without number at the beginning of the sixteenth century; and although
many were probably of metal, silver or copper enamelled and having
some intrinsic value, yet an equal or perhaps greater number were of
ivory. Not merely bishops but the heads of religious houses, abbots and
abbesses, carried them as official tokens of their rank and dignity.
We find frequent mention of them in the old inventories. For example,
at St. Paul’s, in 1295; “Item, baculus cum cambuca eburnea, continente
agnum.” “Item, baculus de peciis eburneis, et summitate crystallina,”
etc. “Cambuca” is a word often used in the middle ages for the staff
itself; derived, perhaps, from κάμπτω, I bend.

Yet numerous as they must once have been, the heads of English pastoral
staffs are now among the rarest of ivory carvings. It is true that
no. 298 at South Kensington can, with some kind of probability, be
attributed to an English artist and may have been used in England;
but no other in that collection can be referred to. The almost
complete destruction in England of all ecclesiastical ornaments—books,
vestments, reliquaries, and the like—in the middle of the sixteenth
century will account for the extreme rarity of them in this country.
But it is very difficult to explain the reason why so few should still
be found in France, or Germany, or Italy. The bishop’s pastoral staff,
again, has not dropped out of use like the pax or the flabellum.

There are examples of the pax in the South Kensington collection, nos.
246 and 247. It was used in the middle ages at high mass and sometimes
at low mass also, for sending the kiss of peace from the celebrant,
first to the deacon and subdeacon or to the acolyte, afterwards to the
people. With regard to the custom in England, provincial and diocesan
statutes repeat again and again the obligation upon parishes to provide
the pax, “osculatorium” or “asser ad pacem,” equally with the proper
vestments or books or other furniture of the altar. The rubrics of the
Sarum missal—the use most largely observed in England before the reign
of queen Elizabeth—direct the priest, immediately after the _Agnus
Dei_, to kiss the outside rim of the chalice in which was the Sacred
Blood, and then to give the pax to the deacon who delivered it in
regular order to the ministers and choristers in the sanctuary.

Everything connected with the correct text of the plays of Shakespeare
is of the highest interest to every Englishman; and will serve, it is
hoped, as some excuse for a few words by way of remark upon a passage
where he alludes to a pax. The unfortunate Bardolph came to an untimely
end on account of it:

    “Fortune is Bardolph’s foe, and frowns on him:
      For he hath stolen a pax: and hang’d must’a be.
      ——Exeter hath given the doom of death,
      For pax of little price.”
                              HENRY V., _act_ iii., _sc._ 5.

Until lately the editors of Shakspeare printed _pyx_ on the emendation
(so-called) of Theobald. Johnson, who approved the new reading, informs
us in his note upon the place that the two words “signified the same
thing.” As far as Bardolph was concerned it mattered not; he had
“conveyed” a sacred thing and, as Holinshed tells us, the king would
not move on till the thief was hanged.

The quartos of 1600 and 1608 (and also the three folios) read _pax_:
“he hath stolne a packs;” “a packs of pettie price,” in both editions.
Shakspeare very well knew that a pax exposed or left carelessly on
an altar was much more likely to be stolen than a pyx, which would
be taken infinitely greater care of and locked up in the tabernacle.
Even Dr. Johnson was ignorant upon some subjects; and the way in which
editors “emend” their authors is something marvellous. When Shakspeare
lived, and when the quartos were printed, people had not forgotten the
distinction between the pax and the pyx; and many even could still
remember when that now mysterious thing, the pax, had been brought down
to them in the services of the Church from the altar.

The introduction of the pax instead of the old practice of mutual
salutation was not until about the thirteenth century. The earliest
mention in England occurs in a council held at York, A.D. 1250, under
archbishop Walter Gray, where it is called “osculatorium.” A like order
was made in the province of Canterbury, at the council of Merton, 1305,
directing every parish to provide “tabulas pacis ad osculatorium.”
Several figures of the pax are given in works relating to the subject;
and we find it almost always represented as part of the furniture of
an altar in the woodcut which often precedes the service for advent
sunday, in the printed editions of the Salisbury missal from about 1500
to 1557. Le Brun has an interesting disquisition on the pax: and he
tells us in a note that in its turn it also fell into disuse, because
of quarrels about precedency which were occasioned among the people. Le
Brun is borne out by Chaucer who, in the Parson’s Tale, speaking of the
proud man explains that “also he awaited to sit, or els to go above him
in the waie, or kisse paxe, or be encenced before his neighbour, _etc._”

Occasionally, paxes in ivory have inscriptions upon them. One of the
three in the Liverpool museum has the appropriate prayer, “Da pacem
Domine in diebus nostris.” Two exhibited at Norwich in 1847 had
legends. On one, the Annunciation, “Ave Maria;” on the other, the
Nativity with the shepherds, “Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax,

Notices of the pax are common in monastic and church inventories. In
the Rites of Durham abbey we are told that they possessed “a marvelous
faire booke, which had the epistles and gospels in it, the which booke
had on the outside of the coveringe the picture of our Saviour Christ
all of silver—which booke did serve for the paxe in the masse.” A
book which an abbot of Glastonbury gave to his church there probably
answered the same purpose; and other then existing examples might be
referred to. “Unum textum argenteum et auratum cum crucifixo, Maria,
et Johanne, splendidus emalatum.” A mediæval English pax made of wood
does not now, probably, exist: but there is a curious entry in the
inventory of church goods belonging to the parish of St. Peter Cheap,
in the year 1431; “item iij lyttel pax breds of tre.” Many such wooden
paxes are mentioned as having been burnt in the diocese of Lincoln in
1566 by the royal commissioners: “a paxe of wood” at Baston, another at
Dunsbie, another at Haconbie.

We have a remarkable illustration of the late use of the pax in England
in one of the injunctions issued by the king’s visitors to the clergy
within the deanery of Doncaster, in the first year of Edward the sixth,
and printed by Burnet in his Records: “The clerk was ordered at the
proper time to bring down the pax, and standing without the church
door to say these words aloud to the people. This is a token of joyful
peace which is betwixt God and men’s conscience, _etc._” The “church
door” here means the door in the screen which in those days divided the
chancel from the body of the church. As in Chaucer, where he says of
the wife of Bath

    “Husbands at the church door had she had five.”

In England before the change of religion in the fifteenth century the
marriage ceremony was performed outside the chancel, sometimes at the
great door of the church itself; and then all proceeded towards the
sanctuary for mass and communion.

One of the most beautiful as well as one of the most rare objects
in the South Kensington collection is part of the handle of an
ecclesiastical fan, or flabellum. It is, probably, one half of a
handle; and another half, so nearly alike that it is a question whether
it does or does not belong to the same handle, is in the British
museum. The fan is still used in the Catholic Church in the east,
where the purpose and benefit of it in order to keep off flies from
the sacred vessels, or on account of the heat, are obvious. But in the
west, except perhaps for part of the year in Italy, the fan was a kind
of fashion and, having no symbolism, an unmeaning introduction from
the oriental rite. The various churches of France and England had
dropped the use of it before the sixteenth century; but we have plenty
of evidence that the fan was commonly adopted in the thirteenth and the
twelfth. Illuminations in two of the manuscripts in the public library
at Rouen are very clear in this matter. One represents the deacon
raising the flabellum, a circular fan with a long handle, over the head
of the priest standing at the altar. In the other, the deacon is in the
act of waving the fan, holding it by a short handle, over the head of a
bishop who is elevating the Host.

A very curious flabellum, supposed to be of the ninth century, is
described by Du Sommerard; it had long been preserved in the abbey of
Tournus, south of Chalons, and was said to be in the possession of M.
Carraud about twenty years ago. The fan of queen Theodolinda, of purple
vellum with ivory handle, given by her to the cathedral of Monza is
still preserved there. Other examples are, perhaps, still existing; two
or three are mentioned by writers of the last century.

Inventories of churches and monasteries include the fan. In one
of Amiens, about 1300, is “flabellum factum de serico et auro ad
repellendas muscas.” Another, of the Sainte Chapelle at Paris, 1363,
gives “Item, duo flabella, vulgariter nuncupata muscalia, ornata
perlis.” Nor ought we to omit some entries of the same kind in English
inventories. In one, of the cathedral of Salisbury, in 1314, are “ij
flabella de serico et pergameno.” The church of St. Faith, in the crypt
of St. Paul’s, possessed among its ornaments in 1298 “unum muscatorium
de pennis pavonum.” Still more to our present purpose was the fan
given to a chantry in the cathedral of Rochester, by bishop Hanno, in
1346; “unum flabellum de serico cum virga eburnea:” or the “flabellum
de serico” named in the inventory of the property of Robert Bilton,
bishop of Exeter, in 1330. John Newton, treasurer of York minster,
gave to that church about the year 1400 a splendid fan, which was
in the treasury there when everything of the kind was destroyed by
the commissioners of Edward the sixth: “Manubrium flabelli argenteum
deauratum, ex dono Joh. Newton, cum ymagine episcopi in fine enameled,
pond’ v. unc.” It is not at all improbable that fans were used in
England at mass even in parochial or country churches until a late
period. The following entry occurs in the accounts of the churchwardens
of Walberswick, in Suffolk: a payment in the year 1493 for “a bessume
of pekok’s fethers, iv. d.”

Care must be observed, however, not to set down all works in
ivory which are similar to no. 373 as having been the handles of
ecclesiastical fans. Other church ceremonies required utensils of the
same kind; though, probably, they were seldom if ever so profusely
decorated and enriched with carving. For example, holy-water sprinklers
would often have had ivory handles; and one is specified as belonging
to St. Paul’s in 1295, “aspersorium de ebore.” More than this; whip
handles, which we see on mirror cases and in illuminations, and other
like things were made and ornamented for secular purposes. Hearne
gives a copy of a curious inscription on the handle of a whip found in
the ruins of the abbey of St. Alban. It commemorates the gift of four
horses to the monks of that house from Gilbert of Newcastle. Hearne
leaves the date of the handle doubtful, but is disposed to put it about
the end of the fourteenth century.

The wife of Roger de Mortimer of Wigmore castle in Herefordshire had,
among other valuable things as specified in the inventory taken in
Edward the second’s reign (before quoted) “item, j scourgiam de ebore.”

The etching represents a very beautiful reliquary, French work of the
sixteenth century, in the Kensington museum.

1480. ENTIRE WIDTH OPENED 10¼ in. S.K.M. (N^o 4336)



The South Kensington museum is rich in ivory statuettes: many of them
are very beautiful, although none is equal to a large sitting figure of
the Virgin in the British museum or to two or three of the finest in
the collections at Paris. Almost all of these statuettes represent the
Virgin and Child; naturally, this would be a subject most frequently in
demand for private oratories. Almost always the Virgin bears the tokens
of her spiritual glory and privileges. To adopt the words of a French
writer on another class of ivory carvings, “La Vierge mère et reine
porte glorieuse les trois signes de son incomparable grandeur; la fleur
de sa pureté immaculée, le fruit béni qui, loin de flétrir, a embelli
sa fleur; et la couronne qui a consommé ses privilèges en couronnant
ses vertus.”

Generally speaking, the statuettes of the latter part of the thirteenth
and throughout the fourteenth century are pure and religious in style,
with an admirable expression of love and reverence in the figures,
perfectly natural. There are two or three examples in the collections
at South Kensington and the British museum, which may well claim all
the praise which M. Labarte gives to a group of the coronation of the
Virgin and to a Virgin and Child, both now preserved in the Louvre.
He speaks of the simplicity of the composition; the refinement and
truthfulness of the forms; the appropriate inflexions of the body and
limbs; the imitation of real life; the just expression given to the
faces; and the natural development and treatment of the draperies. So,
again, we may quote his exact words, and say of more than one statuette
in these great collections: “Quelle pureté dans le dessin, quelle
noblesse dans la pose, quelle finesse dans le modèle, quelle ampleur
et quelle élégance dans la disposition de la draperie! Cette statuette
montré à quel haut degré de perfection était parvenue la sculpture
chrétienne à la fin du [quatorzième] siècle.”

The seals attached to mediæval deeds are important illustrations of
the mode of treatment of the subject of the Virgin and Child, so
common in the statuettes of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Take, for instance, some in the Bodleian library. The seal of the
prior and convent of Wyrmeseye (Wormegay) in Norfolk, attached to a
deed of 1347, has a seated Virgin suckling the Child, her right hand
uplifted. Another of the convent of Castle Acre, 1290, a similar
subject. Another, of one of the parties to a deed of the archbishop of
Canterbury, 1376, has the Virgin sitting, facing, and holding the Child
standing on her lap, a sceptre in her right hand; another, showing the
peculiar twist of the figure (presently to be noticed) is on the seal
of the convent of West Acre, in Norfolk.

There are several also in the British museum: especially a very fine
seal of Southwick Priory, early fourteenth century; the Virgin sitting
and suckling the Infant, under a canopy of a single arch; another, the
same subject, thirteenth century, of Oseney abbey; another, same date,
of Elsing Spittle priory, the Virgin standing with the child under a
rich canopy.

Sometimes ivory statuettes are still found placed under canopies and
with shutters or wings to fold round them, so as either to make shrines
for an oratory or, portable, to be carried by the owners on their
journeys. More often, examples of this kind are not finished in the
back or are still left attached to the ground of the block of ivory,
carved however in very high relief. The shrine no. 4686, is a good
specimen. When so treated, the shutters are richly decorated on the
inside with scenes from the gospels, usually relating to the Nativity
or to the Passion of our Lord.

Of this style were the shrines or triptychs at Lincoln, in 1536:
“A tabernacle of two leaves, gemmels [hinges] and lock of silver,
containing the coronation of our Lady;” and “item, a tabernacle of
ivory standing upon four feet with two leaves, with one image of our
Lady in the middle, and the salutation of our Lady in one leaf, and the
nativity of our Lady in the other.”

There are two remarkable and important illuminations in the manuscript
psalter of queen Mary, which has been more than once referred to (p.
74). In one is a shrine, open, with the decorations usual early in the
fourteenth century. The centre is divided into two compartments. Above
is the Annunciation; the Blessed Virgin and an angel; each under a
pointed arch, cusped and crocketed. Below, is the Visitation; Elizabeth
and the Virgin meet under a gateway and embrace. The wings are filled
with saints, each standing under a pointed arch. This illumination
precedes the psalter, following the calendar, after the Old Testament
history. The other represents a triptych: in the middle is the Virgin
and Child; she is sitting and giving Him the breast; two angels stand
by, swinging censers; in each wing is an angel with a candlestick.

The mediæval artist may have drawn these with examples now in the South
Kensington museum before him as his models.

Figures carved in such deep relief as almost to be statuettes
occasionally but very rarely occur in diptychs. A remarkable specimen
was in the Meyrick collection; an illustration is given (p. 100) of one
of the leaves. Probably no diptych exists in any collection equalling
this in the depth to which the figures have been cut in relief. Each is
brought out from the background three quarters of an inch. On the other
leaf is the Virgin and Child. An inscription is incised upon the book
which our Lord holds in His left hand: “Ego su. dns. ds tuus Ic. xpc.
qi. creavi redemi & salvabo te.” Both figures have great grace and
dignity; and the draperies are arranged with unusual simplicity and


There was also another very curious mode of carving statuettes of the
Virgin, of which extant specimens are extremely rare, and none (it is
believed) is to be found in England. There is one, well known, in the
gallery of the Louvre, engraved in the useful book of M. Viollet le
Duc, _dictionnaire de mobilier Français_. It is a sitting figure of
our Lady, who is holding the Infant on her knees. The front part is
divided down the middle and two wings fall back on hinges, leaving a
centrepiece and forming a triptych of the usual character. There are
scenes from the Passion on the wings, and the Crucifixion is carved
upon the centre. The date of the ivory is early in the fourteenth
century; but the fashion of this kind of statuette can be traced to a
much earlier time. An entry in an inventory of the church of Notre Dame
at Paris in 1343 mentions one: “quædam alia ymago eburnea valde antiqua
scisa per medium et cum ymaginibus sculptis in appertura, que solebat
poni super magnum altare.”

Occasionally statuettes are mentioned in English inventories; thus in
the inventory of Roger de Mortimer, a coffer is included, containing
with other things “j parvam imaginem beatæ Virginis de ebore.” Again,
“a lityll longe box of yvery with an ymage of our lady of yvery therein
closyd” is named among the goods belonging in 1534 to the guild of St.
Mary the Virgin at Boston, in Norfolk.

A very fine statuette of English work, more than nine inches in
height, has been for some years on loan to the South Kensington
museum; it belonged to the late Mr. Hope Scott, and was formerly
Lord Shrewsbury’s. The Virgin is in a sitting position and holds a
large flower in her right hand. She wears a crown under which is the
veil, and her drapery falls over her knees to the feet in heavy and
deeply-carved folds. The face of the Virgin is very beautiful and full
of affectionate expression; the head also of the Child is unusually
good. The ends of the throne are carved in relief, each with a figure
of a female saint sitting under a bold decorated canopy. Many portions
of the original gilding remain upon the hair and on the borders of the

The largest known statuette was in the possession of the late Mr.
Alexander Barker; and this is not only remarkable for its size and
height but is graceful in design, and from the hand of a good artist.
It is French, probably of the Burgundian school, and of the fourteenth
century. The Blessed Virgin is standing, carrying the Child; both hold
in one hand a fruit, perhaps an apple. The figures are vested much in
the same manner as the statuette no. 4685 at South Kensington, and the
draperies have gilded borders with a running scroll; the linings of the
robes of both are painted dark blue. The hair of the Virgin and of the
Infant has been gilded. The perpendicular height of this statuette is
twenty-three inches, and the extreme width at the base six inches. The
figure is hollow as far as the tusk was so, and slopes to the left in
accordance with its natural growth. The height to the girdle is fifteen
inches, and the Infant sitting on His mother’s arm measures seven and
a half inches. From the chin to the top of the head of the Virgin is
three inches. The tusk curves inwards at the waist two inches from
a line falling from the back of the head to the lowest part of the
drapery which covers the feet.

Every one must have remarked the bend or twist so often given to
statues, carved from stone, of the Virgin and of female saints which
fill the niches of churches and cathedrals built in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries. The necessity which obliged the workman in
ivory to follow the natural form of the tusk in all statuettes of such
a size, or of nearly so great a size, as that which has been just
described, certainly did not press upon sculptors whose material was
stone and comparatively unlimited. But the position had perhaps become,
as it were, a fashion, and the style conventional and pleasing to eyes
accustomed daily to see statues so leaning aside in their own oratories.

The same slope or twist is to be seen often in the figure of the Virgin
in the centre of the volute of the head of a pastoral staff; where, so
far as abundance of material was concerned, there was not the least
necessity for any deviation from an upright into an unnatural attitude.

Again, in statuettes in silver or other metal: as, for example, in the
silver Virgin and Child in the South Kensington museum; and in another,
also silver, standing on the cover of an oblong reliquary, and said
to represent Jeanne d’Evreux, queen of France. This last is among the
collections of the Louvre.

Before we pass on to another question, it is impossible not to make a
few remarks upon one of the most beautiful and affecting of all the
works in ivory which have come down to us from mediæval times. This is
a piece, small in size and carved upon both sides, which has probably
been in the volute of a bishop’s pastoral staff. On one side is a group
of our Lord in the garden of Gethsemane, praying in His agony, and with
the apostles lying asleep below. On the other is a second group, a
Pietà; the blessed Virgin seated and holding the dead body of our Lord
upon her lap. A woodcut is given of this important sculpture.

Perhaps there are few works of Michael Angelo which have been more
praised, or which have excited more enthusiasm than his group of the
same subject in St. Peter’s. We will listen for a minute to two or
three writers who have especially drawn attention to his famous Pietà.


One says: “The celebrated Pietà now adorns the first right-hand chapel
on entering the great door of St. Peter’s. It consists of two figures,
the Virgin Mother, seated in a dignified attitude, and supporting
on her knees a dead Christ, Whom she regards with inexpressible
reverence, tenderness, and grief.... Its touching pathos, its dignified
conception, and its masterly execution, are incontestable.”

A French critic writes: “Cette Pietà fut la première œuvre de Michel
Ange qui l’éleva au premier rang et apprit son nom à tous les échos du
monde civilisé;” and the same author further speaks of the group as
having been “the conception” of the artist, and “a creation” of his

Another writes: “When this group was finished it was universally
admired,” and goes on to state that “one of the great sculptors of the
present day, our fellow-countryman Gibson, expressed himself in terms
of high admiration.”

Once more; a writer upon the Tuscan school: “In this admirable group
the dead body of our Lord lies upon the lap of the Madonna, while her
left hand is half opened and slightly turned back, with a gesture
which carries out the pitying expression of her face. The Christ shows
a purity of style and deep feeling, combined with a grandeur which
Michel Angelo drew from himself alone.” The same writer tells us a few
pages before: “Michael Angelo, who was an enemy to tradition in art, as
well as to a positive imitation of nature, took a path diametrically
opposed to that followed by the conventionalists, the realists, and the
worshippers of the antique.”

We entirely dissent from the unmeasured laudation here given to
the famous statue at St. Peter’s. Let the praise of originality of
conception, as well as of merit of execution (so far as the size of
his material would permit) be given where it is due, to the sculptor
of the fourteenth century, who died a hundred years before Michael
Angelo was born. Nay, more than this; an unprejudiced comparison will
show that where the work of the great Italian differs from the earlier
Pietà, it differs for the worse. In the ivory the position of the head
and the cold stiffness of the limbs are more death-like and more solemn
than in the marble. In the ivory also the Mother seems to be thinking
more of the past pains and sufferings of her Divine Son than of her
own sorrows: tenderly she supports the Saviour’s head with her right
hand, and, as it were, still clings to Him and draws Him to her with
the other; not, as in the marble at Rome, stretching out and opening
her hand as if to show _her_ misery and the terrible extent of _her_
bereavement. The mediæval artist remembered that the sad cry of the
prophet in the book of Lamentations referred not to His mother but to
Christ: “Was there ever any sorrow like unto my sorrow?”

It was a common practice in the middle ages to colour statuettes and,
indeed, also other things, such as triptychs, diptychs, and the covers
of writing-tablets. Traces of this colouring are still visible on
many examples. The robes and vestments were painted red or blue, with
borders of a different colour and often diapered with patterns in gold.
The interesting illustration (opposite) of a painter at work upon a
statuette, an illumination in a French manuscript of the fifteenth
century, is copied from M. Labarte’s work on the industrial arts.


Modern taste runs generally, with regard to this question, in
opposition to the old; but we are not, therefore, hurriedly to decide
against colour as altogether barbarous or improper. Sculpture, people
thought in former days, gained an improved effect by such additional
help, and certainly the use of colour was an attempt to give a more
real appearance and more true to nature. The carvers in ivory could
moreover (if they had known the fact) have appealed to the best period
of the Greek school; to the works of Phidias and Praxiteles. The
chryselephantine statues in the temples of Athens and Olympia had the
same character of ornament and variety of material.

Writers on art who hold that the legitimate province of sculpture is
simply to represent by form are inclined to condemn any addition of
colour as interfering with that definition. They say that if sculpture
be painted it is a mixture of two arts: as it is also if a picture
be relieved or raised in any part; after the manner of the Byzantine
pictures by Italian painters of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
But it by no means follows that such a mixture is necessarily false in
taste; rather it must be left to the judgment and decision of the time
and of the country for which the sculptures are made.

A recent contributor to an art periodical, writing of imitation of
nature in statues by colour, dogmatises without doubt or hesitation and
even goes so far as to say that such statues are “not to be regarded as
sculpture. Nor can those representations of the human form which are
made to counterfeit life itself, and dressed it may be in the actual
attire of the person pourtrayed, be spoken of as sculpture. Regarded
from the sculptor’s point of view, such productions can only be
regarded in the light of tricks, or, at the best, of clever forgeries
of nature.” Criticism such as this seems to want the right quality of

Although it is quite true that the works of the Greek sculptors,
during the two or three hundred years of the greatest perfection to
which the art of sculpture has ever reached, are not to be praised
as the greatest and most successful of all statues because they were
coloured or otherwise made to imitate reality; yet the intention was
good, and in obedience to the universal demand and feeling of a people
wonderfully fitted by nature, education, and experience to come to a
right conclusion on the matter. We are unaccustomed in our own days
to statues except those which, whether draped or undraped, are left
in the original pure whiteness of the ivory or marble; we think that
nothing is to be so much approved as what we call simplicity. We may
be right, not only as to what we hold to be pleasing to ourselves, but
as to what ought to be pleasing to and held to be correct by every one
and in every age. On the other hand, we may not be right after all;
and a little more caution and hesitation might be advisable before we
condemn, merely as a matter of abstract taste, a practice which seems
to have recommended itself to almost every people of the world, as in
some way in accordance with the common sentiment of humanity itself;
which was accepted by highly civilised nations from the days of the
Egyptian and Assyrian kings down to the fifteenth century of the
Christian æra; and which can appeal in its support to artists whose
works have ever been acknowledged to be the masterpieces of the world.

It has just been said that the great works of Phidias and his pupils
are not to be praised merely because they were coloured nor because no
mode of enrichment, gold or jewels or ivory or enamelling, was grudged
as being too costly in order to adorn them. So, again, the use of
colours is not to be condemned because the statues of some very ancient
nations are coarse and rude, or because the idols of the old Mexicans
or of the savages of Africa and New Zealand are made by it even more
hideous than they would otherwise be. The wide-spread observance of the
practice is the point to be considered; and the fact that it rests upon
some deep-seated and universal feeling in the mind of all men, of all
countries, and of almost every age.

Regarded as a mode of handing down to future generations the memory of
much which would have been lost for want of it, who can complain of
the careful colouring of mediæval tombs and monuments? We are indebted
to it for exact details of dresses and jewelry and armour: about which
there can therefore be no longer any dispute, and which give the answer
at once to many difficulties and many interesting subjects of inquiry.
Nowadays we should almost shudder at a statue painted and coloured
to imitate the muslins and silks worn in Hyde Park by women, and the
various coats and trowsers of the men. But five hundred years hence
some of our descendants would be grateful if, in spite of our own
prejudices, we had given them even one statue among the many of our
Queen or of the prince Consort, not left in the bare uncoloured silence
of the marble.

Crucifixes in ivory of the middle ages are extremely rare; they may
remain still in use in some churches abroad, but whether abroad or at
home they are seldom found in the collection of any museum. There is
one, although a fragment yet very beautiful, in the South Kensington
collection: no. 212. The figure is represented after death; but the
still suffering expression of the drooping head, the strained muscles
across the breast showing the ribs, and, as it were, the struggle of
the legs contracted in the last agony, are admirably given. The eyes
are closed, the forehead drawn with pain, the mouth open. The body
is clothed with a garment crossed in white folds over the loins and
falling to the knees. It is greatly to be regretted that this beautiful
figure has been so mutilated. The conception of the artist is full
of true feeling and devotion, and his treatment of the subject an
excellent example of the right union of conventionality with enough of
what is real. As with regard to the heads of pastoral staffs, so also
it is not easy to say why mediæval crucifixes should be so uncommon:
for, although there must have been hundreds wilfully destroyed and
broken in England in the sixteenth century, the same reason does not
apply to other countries, where the demand and the supply both for
the churches and for private use must have been continual and almost
without limit.

There are numerous records still remaining in our public offices and
in the muniment-rooms of many dioceses, which leave us in no doubt as
to the extent and completeness of the destruction of the furniture
and goods of English churches and cathedrals from the year 1550 to
1570. In the very valuable series of returns made by the commissioners
for the county of Lincoln, the lists of items are generally summed
up, “with the rest of the trash and tromperie wch appertaynid to the
popish service.” Even with respect to objects for which one would have
supposed that some slight reverence would have still been felt, such as
crucifixes and altars, we have entries like the following in one parish
alone: “Item ij altar stones; which is defacid and layd in high waies
and sarveth as bridges for sheepe and cattall to go on;” in another,
“Item, iij altar stones broken and defacid, thone [the one] solde vnto
Thomas Woodcroft, who turned it to a cestron bottom, thother aboute the
mending of the church wall and the thirde sett in a fire herthe.”

An unusually good and large ivory crucifix is preserved in the Catholic
chapel in Spanish Place, London. It was given to the chapel about
thirty years ago but for some time retained by the late cardinal
Wiseman, by whose permission it was shown in the Great Exhibition of
1851. The date is, perhaps, late in the seventeenth century; Spanish
work; about a foot in height; and the arms of the suspended body are
less extended than in the mediæval times. The figure is coloured with
great care to imitate life; blood flows from the wounds, and the
streams where they meet are jewelled with small rubies. The flesh of
the knees is broken and mangled.

Excellent as this crucifix is as a mere work of art, it utterly fails
in calling forth expression of pure religious sentiment. The reality of
treatment in the figure of our dying Lord is too near truth, and is at
the same time untrue. So far as it has left the old type it has lost
power to influence devotion. The earlier conventional crucifix, which
left all to the imagination and never aimed at perfectly representing
a man dying on a cross, was immeasurably more fitting and more

The diptychs of the middle ages for public and private devotion have
been already spoken of. But besides these, two leaves occur not
unfrequently which are strictly diptychs and were used for the same
purpose as the _pugillares_ in the old days of imperial Rome. Single
plaques are very common, and not only are they usually small in size
but may almost always be distinguished from diptychs of the religious
class by the form of the reverse or inside page of each leaf. This
has been hollowed out to a slight depth, leaving a narrow raised rim
or border; and wax was spread over the depressed portion, for writing
upon with a pointel or stylus; the other end of which was flattened to
erase with. We thus find brought down through fifteen hundred years the
practice of the days of Ovid:

    “Et meditata manu componit verba trementi;
     Dextra tenet ferrum, vacuam tenet altera ceram.
     Incipit, et dubitat: scribit, damnatque tabellas:
     Et notat, et delet, etc.”

The subjects sculptured on the outside of diptychs of this kind
generally also give another and a sufficient distinction, being
perhaps some domestic scene or a story from a romance, as upon combs
or mirror cases. But this is not always so: for writing-tablets
occasionally are found with subjects taken from the Holy Scriptures.

A few examples of these writing-tablets have been preserved which have
several leaves of ivory inside; although in most instances the plain
leaves have been lost and the covers alone remain. A very fine and
complete set, of the fourteenth century, with four inner leaves is
engraved by Montfaucon (in his great work L’Antiquité expliquée) from
his own collection, which had scenes carved on it from the romance of
Alexander. Montfaucon describes them carefully: “Notre cabinet en a de
cette dernière matière (d’ivoire), dont les deux couvertures out des
bas-reliefs d’un goût barbare. Les bords des tabletes sont relevez de
tous les côtez: ces bords relevez laissent un petit creux pour y placer
une cire préparée, laquelle élevant un peu le page rendoit une face
unie et de niveau avec les bords; on appelloit ces tabletes _tabellæ
ceratæ_. On gravoit sur cette cire préparée ce qu’on vouloit écrire, et
l’on effaçoit ce qu’on avoit ecrit, ou en y passant fortement dessus
l’autre côté du style, quand la matière étoit plus gluante. C’est ce
que les anciens appelloient _stylum vertere_, etc.” Judging from the
engraving in Montfaucon’s own book, it would seem that these tablets
were the work of a good artist and of the best time of that particular
style; and that it was hard to speak of them as “d’un goût barbare.”

Ivory writing-tablets were used in the middle ages in England by people
of all ranks, and are mentioned in inventories and wills. Chaucer tells
us of the preaching friar’s companion:

    “His felaw had a staff tipped with horn,
     A pair of tables all of ivory,
     And a pointel ypolished fetishly,
     And wrote alway the names, as he stood
     Of alle folk that gaue hem any good—
     —Or geve us of your braun, if ye have any,
     A dagon of your blanket, leve dame,
     Our suster dere, lo here I write your name.”

A characteristic illustration occurs in Shakespeare, in the second part
of King Henry the fourth. The archbishop of York says:

                  “ ... the king is weary
    Of dainty and such picking grievances;
    And therefore will he wipe his tables clean,
    And keep no tell-tale to his memory.”

It is to be observed that in these quotations both Chaucer and
Shakespeare call these diptychs by the name “tables,” a word which had
several meanings formerly in England. We have seen already that the
game of draughts was so called, and it was also frequently applied in
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to carvings in alabaster or
to paintings on boards in churches. In 1458 money was bequeathed to
the church of Dunwich in Suffolk, “ad novam tabulam de alabastro de
historia sanctæ Margaretæ,” and a “table of St. Thomas of Ynde” was
left in 1510 by Robert Clerk to Batfield church, in Norfolk.

An interesting paper in the Archæologia, read before the Society of
antiquaries in 1843 by Mr. Albert Way, on the famous golden _Tabula_ of
Basle may also be referred to. The writer concludes by expressing his
wish that such a monument, then in private hands, “could be deposited
in a national collection,” and he complains that “England alone, of
all the countries of western Europe, possesses no national collection
which exhibits a series of specimens illustrative of the character and
progress of the arts of the middle ages, and of the taste and usages of
our ancestors.” Happily, this is a complaint which cannot be made now.

Chaplets of ivory beads for private devotion were very common in the
middle ages, and are often mentioned in letters and other documents.
Some good examples still exist in various collections. The woodcut on
the next page represents a set, and a girdle with ivory clasps, in the
collection of M. Achille Jubinal.


Another class of small works in ivory was to be found in England from
an early period, namely seals. Some have been preserved. One is in the
Ashmolean at Oxford; oval, of the archdeaconry of Merioneth, in the
thirteenth century; another, walrus ivory, of the abbey of St. Alban is
in the British museum.

Robert Fabyan the chronicler, in his will dated 1511 leaves to one of
his sons “that other signet of gold, with my puncheon of ivory and


There are several very fine horns in the South Kensington collection,
more especially no. 7954, engraved in the accompanying woodcut, and
which is unequalled by any other of its kind known. The style and
workmanship are rare; one, probably by the same hand, was lately in
the possession of a noble English family. The horns which we find
frequently mentioned in mediæval wills and inventories are hunting
horns. For example, Sir John de Foxle in 1378 leaves to the king his
great bugle horn, ornamented with gold. “The ivory horn of St. Oswald
the king” was preserved at Durham in the year 1383. Near the end of the
thirteenth century there were two ivory horns kept in the treasury of
St. Paul’s: “Item, cornu eburneum gravatum bestiis et avibus, magnum.
Item, aliud cornu eburneum planum et parvum.”

A common term anciently in England for these horns was “olifant,”
from the name then usually given to the elephant; for instance, the
amusing story in the old life of St. Clement in Caxton’s Golden Legend:
“When Barnabe came to Rome prechynge y^e fayth of Jesu Christ, the
philosophers mocked hym and despysed hys predicacyon and in scorne put
to hym this questyon sayenge, What is y^e cause y^e culex whyche is a
lytell beest hath vj. feet and two wynges and an olyphaunte whyche ys
a grete beest hath but foure feete and no wynges,” etc. St. Barnabas
replied that it was a foolish question and needed no answer—the
more especially as they knew not the Creator and must necessarily,
therefore, be ignorant about his creatures.

There is only one horn at South Kensington which can be regarded as
having been a tenure horn. It is possible that no. 7953 (see the
etching) may have been a horn of that kind. Several of these tenure
horns are still preserved in England and were shown in the loan
exhibition of 1862. Among them the most famous are the horn of Ulphus,
in the treasury at York; the horns given by Henry the first to the
cathedral at Carlisle; and the Pusey horn. The ivory hunting horn
(so-called) of Charlemagne is kept at Aix la Chapelle; and another said
to have been Roland’s in the cathedral at Toulouse.

It will be observed by those who examine the catalogue of the ivories
in the South Kensington museum that more are attributed to the
fourteenth century than to any other, and this would be correct with
regard also to the collection in the British museum, or at Liverpool,
or abroad. Sculpture in ivory was very general and greatly patronised
at that time; and, with the exception of a very few examples of Roman
art under the emperors, there are no carvings existing which equal
those made from about the year 1280 to 1350, either in truth and
gracefulness of design or in excellence of workmanship.

We find also in carvings of that period the best examples of the very
beautiful open or pierced work which has been already spoken of: and
an illustration has before been given (p. 64) from a series of small
panels in the Meyrick collection. No apology will be required for
adding here two more woodcuts from ivories of the same character. Both
are engraved of the exact size of the originals.

One of these contains two compartments from the splendid plaque, no.
366, in the South Kensington collection.


25 IN. DIAM. 5½ IN. (SOLTIKOFF COLL.) S. K. M. (N^o 79^{53.-’62.})




The other is a complete row from a book cover in the British museum:
divided into thirty compartments, each an inch by three quarters of
an inch. It is impossible in a woodcut to do more than attempt to
give some idea of the marvellous delicacy and excellence of the panel
itself, which is beyond all comparison the very finest ivory existing
of its peculiar school. Small, even minute, as the divisions are, they
plainly tell the story which each is intended to convey; although in
some of them there are as many as seven or eight figures, finished with
admirable distinctness and perfection. The subjects in this row are the
offering of St. Joachim; his departure into the desert; the message of
the angel to St. Joachim; the message to St. Anne; the meeting of St.
Joachim and St. Anne at the gate; and the birth of the Blessed Virgin.
The etching represents some beautiful panels in open work, at South

Nothing is more difficult than the determination of the particular
country in which many of the ivories of mediæval times were carved. All
acknowledge this, and they the most readily who have had the widest
experience and the best opportunities of examination. It has long
been a custom to set down almost every ivory of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries as Flemish or French, leaving but few except the
Italian marriage caskets to the credit of other countries. But (not
to speak of Germany) there can be no question that carvings in ivory
were then much sought after and bought in England, and that there
must have been numerous English artists. Two unquestionable examples
of the English school of the fourteenth century are in the British
museum: a triptych which was carved for Grandison, bishop of Exeter;
and one leaf of a diptych which was also made for the same great
prelate, and still retains slight traces of the painting of his coat
of arms. A woodcut is given (p. 117) of the single leaf. Generally, we
may agree with Sir Digby Wyatt, who says in the very interesting and
able lecture to which reference has been already made (p. 5), that “a
peculiar _nez retroussé_, a dimpled, pouting, and yet smiling mouth, a
general _gentillesse_ of treatment, and a brilliant yet rapid mode of
technical execution, stamp the French work with an almost unmistakable
character. To the English style may be assigned a position midway
between the French and the second Italian manner. It does not exhibit
the gaiety and tenderness of the former, nor has it quite the grandeur
of the latter, but it is marked by a sober earnestness of expression
in serious action which neither of those styles possesses.” We may
further observe that the English school had less of the monotony and
mannerism which are the derogatory features of continental examples of
the same period; in fact, English gothic ivories have both a purity and
a variety of treatment on a par with the admirable characteristics of
contemporary architecture in this country.

FRENCH, 14^{th} CENT.

S.K.M (N’284’34^2’67) F. A. SLOCOMBE FECIT.]


The names of mediæval artists in ivory are almost entirely unknown. Sir
Digby Wyatt and Labarte say that they have been able to meet with the
name of one only, that of Jean Lebraellier, who was carver to Charles
V. of France, and is mentioned in the inventory of that monarch as
having executed “deux grans tableaux d’yvoire des troys Maries.” We
may venture to add the name of one other, the carver of a pax in the
British museum, Jehan Nicolle; whose work, unlike the “tables” of
Lebraellier, fortunately still exists. His name is incised upon the pax
in capital letters; there is also a shield, bearing a hammer behind two
crossed swords.

Very few Spanish ivories of the middle ages can be referred to, and
those which we possess have a very distinct Moorish or Arabic character
about them. They are generally caskets or boxes (see the etching), and
some are still to be found in the treasuries of churches in Spain.
Strangely enough, it is said that there are more remaining in the north
and north-west of Spain, where the Moors did not obtain any permanent
footing, than in the south; in Andalusia or Granada. Probably this
is owing not only to the circumstance that when taken to other parts
of the country they were regarded as valuable curiosities, but also
more especially because of the natural prejudice in the south against
keeping works of Moorish art and manufacture as reliquaries or pyxes,
or for any religious use. In the north of Spain there seems to have
been no obstacle in the way of enclosing relics of a Christian saint
in coffers upon which Arabic inscriptions had been carved in honour of
Allah and his prophet. But we must remember that these inscriptions
were in an unknown language.

Some of the ancient Spanish ivories are as old as the days of the
Cordovan caliphs in the ninth and tenth centuries; a fact which we
are now able to decide from the Arabic inscriptions. But where such
evidence is wanting there is scarcely any guide to direct us in fixing
the date: the ivories may have been carved at almost any time down to
the conquest of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella. Moorish art, like
the Egyptian or Chinese, changed but little from age to age; the old
process and the old patterns were handed down, unaltered, from father
to son; and ivory carvings may have been made in various parts of Spain
by Moorish workmen as late even as the end of the sixteenth century.

It can scarcely be out of place, before we end, to add one word
of warning with regard to forgeries of ivory carvings. These are
sometimes so well done that even experienced persons might be deceived.
Generally, the period chosen for imitations is what is commonly called
the Carlovingian, or a little earlier; for not only are genuine pieces
rare and valuable, but being often coarse and rude in style are more
easily to be executed. Forgeries of consular diptychs have been
frequently made; and with regard to one of these it is well to place on
record the following facts which have been kindly supplied by Mr. A. W.
Franks, of the British museum.


S.K.M.(N^o 217:65.)


“The leaf of the diptych of the consul Anastasius, now in the South
Kensington museum, was exhibited to the Society of antiquaries, March
10, 1864, and described by me in the proceedings of the society (2nd
series, _vol._ 2, _p._ 364) as the _diptychon Leodiense_. The other
leaf was known to have been for some years in the museum at Berlin.
It was therefore with considerable surprise that in the course of the
summer of 1864, I found exhibited in the Musée de la Porte de Hal
at Brussels a large ivory diptych purporting to be the _diptychon
Leodiense_. Having been asked by a friend at Brussels my opinion on the
recent acquisition of the Belgian government, I ventured to express
some doubts in the presence of a gentleman who proved to be at the head
of the commission, at whose recommendation the purchase had been made.

“I advised that the ivories should be taken out of the wooden frames
into which they were fixed, and that the inscriptions known to have
been on the genuine diptych should be sought for. On this being done,
the falsity of the diptych became evident, the ivory at the back being
fresh and not hollowed out for the reception of wax.

“An action was thereupon brought against the vendor, a dealer at Liége,
and after some delay the amount paid by the Belgian government (£800)
was recovered. The diptych had been copied from the engraving in
Wilthem’s work, and not from the original leaves, and this accounted
for various errors in the details.”

It seems strange that the Belgian authorities should have bought at so
great a sum ivories fixed in wooden frames, without some suspicion or
at least without examination. The Liége dealer, however, is not the
only one who has attempted impositions of this kind. About ten years
ago there were four or five large ivories, of splendid appearance,
in the hands of some London dealers. One was a triptych; another a
diptych; a third a comb; and a fourth was a huge shrine with folding
shutters and a tall richly decorated canopy, like the spire of a
cathedral, covering a statuette of the Virgin and Child. (The statuette
was probably genuine.) These ivories purported to be of the fourteenth
century but were all new, and out of one shop or manufactory. The
forgery in some respects was successful; but in every piece there was a
distinct character and manner of execution—the same exactly in all of
them—which proved their falseness. Several were traced back to a dealer
at Amiens; and it is not now known what has become of any of them. The
great shrine having been sold to an English collector for £500 was
returned; and not very long ago was still to be seen in a shop window
in the Strand and said to be, as if to make confusion worse confounded,
an ivory carving of the _tenth_ century. This, whilst it would show
perhaps ignorance on the part of the possessor, would be an argument
that he might be innocent of knowledge of the forgery.

The public institutions in England in which important ivories may be
found are the British museum, the Ashmolean and Bodleian at Oxford, and
the museum given to the town of Liverpool with noble liberality by Mr.
Joseph Mayer. It is worthy of remark that scarcely any addition has
been made to the ivories in the Ashmolean since the time when they were
originally collected by Elias Ashmole nearly two hundred years ago; and
they are of especial interest and value, though not many in number,
because they can reasonably claim with scarcely an exception to be of
English workmanship. A very large proportion of the other three great
collections had also been gathered together before they became the
property of the nation. The Liverpool ivories were chiefly obtained
from the representatives of the late Gabriel Fejérváry; and, in like
manner, the South Kensington museum—begun about the year 1853 and
gradually enriched by the acquisition of some rare Spanish ivories and
some of the best pieces from the Soltikoff collection, selected with
excellent judgment by Mr. J. C. Robinson—has received from time to time
during the last four or five years many large and important additions
from the collection made by John Webb, Esq. More than two-thirds of the
ivories in the British museum, and certainly a large number of the most
valuable, had also been previously collected by a private person.



    Abbreviations of legends, 30
    Æsculapius and Hygieia, 32
    All large plaques not originally diptychs, 42
    Angel, on leaf of diptych, in British museum, 35
    Arm of chair, 82
    Artists in ivory, in middle ages, 117
    Ashmole collection, 120
    Assyrian ivories, 15

    Bardolph, hanged for stealing a pax, 92
    Becker’s Lycoris, 34
    Bellerophon, 21
    Book cover of ninth century, 48

    Casket of Arabic work, 57
       ”   from Memphis, 14
       ”   Runic, in British museum, 52
       ”   from Veroli, 55
       ”   in inventories, 60
    Caxton, “playe of the chesse”, 76
    Chair of St. Peter at Rome, 56
      ”   at Ravenna, 41
    Chalice, &c., of ninth century, 48
    Charlemagne, his patronage of Greek artists, 45
    Chessmen, in chronicles and poems, 78
        ”     earliest date, 78
        ”     date of invention, 76
        ”     in inventories, 79
        ”     found in Lewis, 80
    Chryselephantine statues, 18
           ”         of the duc de Luynes, 19
           ”         conjectural restoration, 19
    Civilisation of ancient nations, 8
    Coffer, sent by Eginhard, 47
       ”    in inventories, 57
    Colour in sculpture, 104
    Combs, domestic, 67
      ”    in inventories, 71
      ”    pontifical, 69
    Consul, decline of the office, 31
       ”    the last, 31
    Consular diptychs, 23, &c.
    Costume in early Greek ivories, 44
    Crucifixes, 107
        ”     in Spanish Place, 108
    Cup, or vase, in British museum, 46
    Cushions, the meaning in consular diptychs, 25

    David and Bathsheba on combs, &c., 67
    Decline of art in the first four centuries, 21
       ”    after Constantine, 26
       ”    after sixth century, 44
    Destruction of religious objects in the sixteenth century, 108
    Diptych of Boethius, 29
       ”    at Brescia, 32
       ”    of Compiegne, 30
       ”    ecclesiastical, 37
       ”    ecclesiastical—their purpose, 40
       ”    with Greek inscriptions, 38
       ”    mutilated and palimpsest, 39
       ”    of Justinian, 38
       ”    found in Transylvania, 23
    Domestic scenes, 67
       ”     works in ivory, 52
    Draughtsmen, 81
    Dress and decorations of consuls on diptychs, 25

    Ecclesiastical works in ivory, 47
    Egyptian ivories, 14
    English ivories, 116, 120
    Etruscan ivories, 19

    “Familia” of chessmen, 79
    Feast of Fools, 33
    Fejérváry collection, 121
    Flabellum in inventories, 95
        ”     of Theodolinda, 95
        ”     its use, 94
    Forgeries in ivory, 118
    Fossil ivory, 2

    Grecian ivories, 16

    Handle of fan, 86
       ”   of holy water sprinkler, 96
       ”   of whip, 96
    Horns, for hunting, 113
       ”   tenure, 114

    Iconoclast fanatics, 44
    Identification of consular diptychs, 26
    Importance of works in ivory, 22
    Improvement in art after seventh century, 45
    Ivory, African and Asiatic, 3
       ”   its characteristics, 1
       ”   mode of softening, 4
       ”   much employed in 14th century, 114
       ”   variations of colour, 5

    Jehan Nicolle, 117
    Jewish ivories, 13
    Jupiter, at Olympia, 19

    Ladies riding, 75
    Legends on consular diptych, coloured red, 26
    List of consular diptychs, 28
    Lycoris, described, 34

    Mammoth ivory, 2
    Manumission of slaves, 25
    Marriage caskets, 64
    Meyer collection, 120
    “Meyne,” its meaning, 79
    Minerva, of the Parthenon, 18
    Mirrors, 71
       ”   in illuminations, 73
    Moorish ivories, 118
    Morris dancers, 68

    Nineveh ivories restored, 6

    Oliphant, explained, 113
    Open-work in ivory, 63
        ”     other examples, 115

    Pastoral staff, with inscription, 88
       ”     not used by the Pope, 89
       ”     of great rarity, 90
       ”     of St. Bernard, ordered in Sarum pontifical, 89
       ”     of wood, 87

    Pausanias, account of Greek statues, 17, 18
         ”     believed ivory to be horn, 19
    Pax inscriptions, 93
     ”  inventories, 93
     ”  late use in England, 94
     ”  ordered in Sarum missal, 91
     ”  its use, 91
     ”  why disused, 93
     ” of wood, 93
    Pietà, of Michael Angelo, 103
      ”    in British museum, 102
    Plaques of ivory, large size, 3
       ”    not originally diptychs, 42
    Prehistoric ivories, 6
    Pugillares, 109
    Pyx, in inventories, 57
     ”   of St. Mennas, 60
     ”   various uses, 60

    Ravenna chair, 41
    Retable of Poissy, 65
    Roman ivories, 21
      ”   ivory sculptors exempt from certain obligations, 21
    Romance of the Rose, 63
       ”    subjects, 62

    Seals in British Museum, 111
      ”   illustrating statuettes, 98
    Serpent, as an emblem, 85
    Shrine, explained, 51
       ”    in illuminations, 99
    Siege of the Castle of Love, 74
    Spanish ivories, 118
    Statuette, coloured, 105
    Statuette in inventories, 100
        ”     the largest known, 101
        ”     opening on hinges, 100
        ”     under canopies, 98
        ”     very fine examples, 97
    Style of English art, 116
    “Symmachorvm,” the omitted word, 35

    Tabernacles, at Lincoln, 99
    Tables explained, 111
    Tablets of Moutier, 34
       ”    of Sens, 32
       ”    for writing on, 109
    “Tan-tabl,” its meaning, 81
    Tau, explained, 84
     ”   rarity, 85
    Toreutic, its meaning, 17
    Triptychs explained, 51
        ”     in illuminations, 99
        ”     mentioned by Anastasius, 51
    Tusks, size and weight, 4

    Veroli casket, probable date, 55
    Volute, with double subject, 87

    Webb collection, 121
    Whip-handles, 96



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