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Box (Pyx)

Artist/maker unknown, French

Created to hold the Host, the consecrated bread or wafer given during Holy Communion, this pyx is typical of works made in Limoges, France, in the 1100s and 1200s. Artists from this city were especially skilled at a new type of enameling called champlevé. After incising shallow cavities into pieces of copper, the enamellers filled them with powdered glass that melted and fused to the metal when fired. Details like the angels’ faces and feathers were engraved by gently wiggling a sharp tool across the copper. The pyx’s shimmering glass and gilded copper alerted viewers to the pyx’s sacred contents. Medieval Christian leaders were often concerned—though not always with just cause—that the Host would be mistreated or damaged, and pyxes were an ideal protective container. Enameled pyxes were less expensive than those made of precious metals but were still considered acceptable substitutes for gold, silver, or ivory.

Object Details

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