Cameo with Christ Emmanuel

Date: 1200–1400

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Steatite, beige

Dimensions: Overall: 1 1/8 x 13/16 x 1/4 in. (2.9 x 2 x 0.6 cm)

Classification: Steatites

Credit Line: Purchase, William Kelly Simpson Gift, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.23


This delicately carved steatite icon displays a frontal bust of the youthful Christ Emmanuel, the incarnate Word, identified by the inscription in Greek flanking his shoulders. Christ's head is silhouetted against a large cruciform nimbus; he holds a scroll in his left hand and makes a preaching gesture with his right. The pendant retains its finely carved surface and highly polished back and sides, although details of Christ's facial features are worn away, probably from the constant touching and kissing of the icon in veneration.