Medieval Rings

les Enluminures
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring
  • ring

Gold Ring with Engraved Warrior Saint (George?) and Inscription

Early Byzantine, c. 550-650 AD

Gold

  • 12.700 €
  • £11,400
  • $15,000
  • Gold Ring with Engraved Warrior Saint (George?) and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-650 AD
    Gold
    Circumference 54.82 mm.; weight 3.5 gr.; US size 7.25; UK size O ½

    The hoop of this ring is a hammered cylindrical rod flattened beneath the bezel and attached to its center. The eight-foiled bezel is engraved with the frontal figure of a warrior saint, a halo appearing above his curly hair, and in military dress, wearing chlamys and a short, girded chiton, while he holds a spear in his right hand and a shield in his left hand. Around the slightly worn perimeter eleven letters read +Κ. VΡΙΕ. ΒΟΗΘΙ., or “Lord help.”

    Though no name is given, the ring most likely depicts Saint George, known as the “holy martyr,” one of Byzantium’s most popular warrior saints (Theodore and Demetrios are the two other popular warrior saints). According to legend George was born of Christian parents and became a Roman soldier before his martyrdom. He appears frequently, sometimes slaying a dragon, on Byzantine frescos, mosaics, as well as small-scale amulets or devotional objects like this one as a protector from the dangers of combat.

    Provenance:
    Munich, Collection C.S., no. 950

    Exhibited:
    Munich, Praehistorische Staatssammlung, 20 Oct. 1998 - 14 Feb. 1999
    Freising, Dioezesanmuseum, 20 May - 21 Oct. 2001

    Published:
    Wamser and Zahlhaas 1998, pp. 225-226, no. 336
    Hahn et al. 2001, p. 143-144, no. II.13

    Reference number: 848

  • Hoop

    Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

    Bezel

    The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

    Band

    A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

    Foil

    Thin metal backing for gems to increase their brilliance, used from Antiquity through the Renaissance with precious stones as well as glass.

    Engraving

    Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

  • Early Christian & Byzantine

    Information about rings in late Antiquity comes from Roman authors, such as Pliny, Martial, and Clement of Alexandria. In his Natural History Pliny states: “... many people do not allow any gems in a signet-ring, and seal with the gold itself; this was a fashion invented when Claudius Caesar was Emperor.” The Roman poet Martial remarked in the first century A.D. he had seen a middle-class citizen wearing no less than six rings on each finger; although under Septimus Severus (died 211 A.D.) a decree was issued allowing each soldier to wear a single gold ring. The Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, discouraged wearing any jewelry at all. However, they did permit Christians to wear one ring, either the seal of their family or the wedding ring; and rings bearing Christian symbols such as fish, birds, and inscriptions of religious character were deemed acceptable.

    The types of rings from this period include examples with nominative inscriptions or plain gold monograms for sealing, marriage and betrothal rings, devotional and religious rings, and decorative rings. Some marriage and fidelity rings are expressly related to the formal institution of marriage and its vows. The symbolic linking of the couple that is expressed in the dextrarum junctio, or the joining of hands, persisted from ceremonies from Roman times. One type of marriage ring thus displays two joined hands. Portraits of the bride and groom, sometimes with crowns over their heads (actually used in ceremonies) or a cross between them, also exist in rings. The man is typically portrayed on the left, in the position of greater importance. Such rings suggest that men and women shared an emotional bond and a practical partnership. Other strictly Byzantine examples depict the bride and groom flanking Christ to indicate that he officiates over the union of bride and groom, sealed by his cross. Typical inscriptions include OMONOIA (Concord) and XAPIC (Grace). In the seventh century, Isidore of Seville wrote: “The ring is given by the espouser to the espoused either as a sign of mutual fidelity ... therefore the ring is placed on the fourth finger because a certain vein, it is said, flows thence to the heart.”

    Other types of rings of the period include decorative rings with attractive gemstones, cameos, and intaglios, sometimes set in beautifully wrought bands made with pierced, twisted, and beaded gold. The excesses associated with the later Roman Empire find expression in two-, three-, and four-finger rings, many made in Alexandria, and in the proliferation of baby rings perhaps not only intended for infants and small children but also meant to adorn statuary as votive offerings. In the Byzantine East, devotional rings like small icons depict frontal standing figures of saints, God the Father, or the Virgin Mary. The love of bright, gleaming colors, so evident in Byzantine mosaics, metalwork, and manuscript illumination, has its counterpart in richly enameled rings.

Gold Ring with Engraved Warrior Saint (George?) and Inscription

Early Byzantine, c. 550-650 AD
Gold
Circumference 54.82 mm.; weight 3.5 gr.; US size 7.25; UK size O ½

The hoop of this ring is a hammered cylindrical rod flattened beneath the bezel and attached to its center. The eight-foiled bezel is engraved with the frontal figure of a warrior saint, a halo appearing above his curly hair, and in military dress, wearing chlamys and a short, girded chiton, while he holds a spear in his right hand and a shield in his left hand. Around the slightly worn perimeter eleven letters read +Κ. VΡΙΕ. ΒΟΗΘΙ., or “Lord help.”

Though no name is given, the ring most likely depicts Saint George, known as the “holy martyr,” one of Byzantium’s most popular warrior saints (Theodore and Demetrios are the two other popular warrior saints). According to legend George was born of Christian parents and became a Roman soldier before his martyrdom. He appears frequently, sometimes slaying a dragon, on Byzantine frescos, mosaics, as well as small-scale amulets or devotional objects like this one as a protector from the dangers of combat.

Provenance:
Munich, Collection C.S., no. 950

Exhibited:
Munich, Praehistorische Staatssammlung, 20 Oct. 1998 - 14 Feb. 1999
Freising, Dioezesanmuseum, 20 May - 21 Oct. 2001

Published:
Wamser and Zahlhaas 1998, pp. 225-226, no. 336
Hahn et al. 2001, p. 143-144, no. II.13

Reference number: 848

Hoop

Also called the shank, the rounded part of the ring that encircles the finger and connects to the bezel at the shoulders.

Bezel

The upper, protruding part of a finger ring (excluding the hoop and the shoulders) often set with a gemstone.

Band

A ring made from a thin, often flat, ribbon-like strip of material (usually metal). The band can be unadorned or decorated.

Foil

Thin metal backing for gems to increase their brilliance, used from Antiquity through the Renaissance with precious stones as well as glass.

Engraving

Technique of cutting patterns into a surface with a sharp tool; an impression made from the cut surface shows the design of the incised lines in reverse (hence intaglio).

Early Christian & Byzantine

Information about rings in late Antiquity comes from Roman authors, such as Pliny, Martial, and Clement of Alexandria. In his Natural History Pliny states: “... many people do not allow any gems in a signet-ring, and seal with the gold itself; this was a fashion invented when Claudius Caesar was Emperor.” The Roman poet Martial remarked in the first century A.D. he had seen a middle-class citizen wearing no less than six rings on each finger; although under Septimus Severus (died 211 A.D.) a decree was issued allowing each soldier to wear a single gold ring. The Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, discouraged wearing any jewelry at all. However, they did permit Christians to wear one ring, either the seal of their family or the wedding ring; and rings bearing Christian symbols such as fish, birds, and inscriptions of religious character were deemed acceptable.

The types of rings from this period include examples with nominative inscriptions or plain gold monograms for sealing, marriage and betrothal rings, devotional and religious rings, and decorative rings. Some marriage and fidelity rings are expressly related to the formal institution of marriage and its vows. The symbolic linking of the couple that is expressed in the dextrarum junctio, or the joining of hands, persisted from ceremonies from Roman times. One type of marriage ring thus displays two joined hands. Portraits of the bride and groom, sometimes with crowns over their heads (actually used in ceremonies) or a cross between them, also exist in rings. The man is typically portrayed on the left, in the position of greater importance. Such rings suggest that men and women shared an emotional bond and a practical partnership. Other strictly Byzantine examples depict the bride and groom flanking Christ to indicate that he officiates over the union of bride and groom, sealed by his cross. Typical inscriptions include OMONOIA (Concord) and XAPIC (Grace). In the seventh century, Isidore of Seville wrote: “The ring is given by the espouser to the espoused either as a sign of mutual fidelity ... therefore the ring is placed on the fourth finger because a certain vein, it is said, flows thence to the heart.”

Other types of rings of the period include decorative rings with attractive gemstones, cameos, and intaglios, sometimes set in beautifully wrought bands made with pierced, twisted, and beaded gold. The excesses associated with the later Roman Empire find expression in two-, three-, and four-finger rings, many made in Alexandria, and in the proliferation of baby rings perhaps not only intended for infants and small children but also meant to adorn statuary as votive offerings. In the Byzantine East, devotional rings like small icons depict frontal standing figures of saints, God the Father, or the Virgin Mary. The love of bright, gleaming colors, so evident in Byzantine mosaics, metalwork, and manuscript illumination, has its counterpart in richly enameled rings.

You might also like

  • Gold Ring with Engraved Virgin and Child and Inscription

    Byzantine Empire, 6th-7th century AD

  • Gold Ring with the Standing Virgin and Child and Openwork Band

    Early Byzantine, late 7th-early 8th century

  • Gold Gemstone Ring with Garnet Intaglio of a Cruciform Monogram

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with a Cruciform Monogram and Inscription

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Gold Ring with Personification of Constantinople

    Early Byzantine, c. 500-600 AD

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe (Hungary?), 19th century

  • Jewish Wedding Ring

    Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “BOVND * BY * FATHE +”

    England, late 16th century

  • Gold Ring with a Glass Cameo of a Cross

    Early Byzantine, c. 6th-7th century AD

  • Electrum (or possibly Silver Gilt) Ring with Eagle and Monogram

    Early Byzantine, c. 550-600 AD

  • Masquerade Ring

    Western Europe, Italy, c. 1760

  • Hellenistic Ring with Amphora

    Greece, 2nd – 1st century BC

  • Byzantine Glass and Pearl Ring

    Byzantium, early 6th century AD

  • Ruby and Zircon Band Ring

    Northern India, late 19th century

  • “LOVE” Ring by Robert Indiana

    United States, 1969

  • Ionic Capital Rings by Stanley Tigerman

    United States and Italy, 1986-1987

  • Posy Ring, “I chuse never to change”

    England, 17th century

  • Posy Ring, “No riches to content”

    England, 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “THE GYFT OF A FRIND”

    England, late 16th – 17th century

  • Posy Ring, “Hearts United live Contented”

    England, 18th century

  • Posy Ring, “Gods intent none can prevent”

    England, 18th century

  • Memorial Ring, “Remember EP”

    England, early 18th century

  • Mourning Ring

    England, 1820

  • Posy Ring, “A true friends gift”

    England (Plymouth ?), first half of 18th century

  • Gold Ring with the Monogram of Zeno

    Early Byzantine, c. 450-500 AD

  • Visigothic Ring with Cruciform Monogram

    Gaul or Iberia, 7th century AD

  • Posy Ring, "I long to have but blush to crave"

    England, 17th century

  • Gold Ring Franciscus South miles

    England, 17th century

  • JEWISH WEDDING RING

    Central or Eastern Europe, 18th century

  • LATE ANTIQUE GEMSTONE RING

    Eastern Empire, Cyprus?, 2nd century

  • Early Byzantine ring with Intaglio of Diana

    Europe or Western Asia (Constantinople?), intaglio 2nd century, setting 5th century

  • BYZANTINE ARCHITECTURAL RING

    Byzantium, 6th century

  • Late Roman or Early Medieval Ring with Garnet

    Italy? 6th-7th century

  • RING WITH GARNET CABOCHON

    Western Europe, probably England, late 13th-14th century

  • Ring with Renaissance Cameo

    Probably Northern Italy, cameo late 16th-early 17th century; ring: second half 18th century

  • Seljuq Ring with Sapphire

    Iran, 12th – 13th century

  • Gimmel Fede Ring with Inscription “GAGE D’AMITIE”

    Probably England, c. 1750

  • Ring with the God Krishna

    India, probably Calcutta, c. 1900-1915

  • Magic Ring of the Karo Batak

    Indonesia, North Sumatra, late 19th century

  • Art Nouveau Ophelia Ring

    France, 1909

  • Watch Ring by Brédillard

    France, Paris, c. 1900-1910

  • Four First World War (or Patriotic) Iron Rings with Inscription “GOLD GAB ICH FÜR EISEN”

    Austro-Hungarian Empire / Germany, 1914-1919

  • Gold and Enamel Band by Giovanni Corvaja

    Italy, Todi, 2013

  • Totentanz Ring by Claude Lévêque

    France, 2015

  • Posy Ring, “Not the value but my love”

    England, late 17th - early 18th century

  • Signet Ring with Double-headed Eagle

    Western Europe (Germany or Austria ?), c. 1700

  • Byzantine Cross Pendant with Chain

    Byzantium, 7th century AD

  • Gold Ring Set with Glass Imitating Emerald

    Byzantine, early 6th century

  • Ring with Nine Rubies

    Probably England or Scotland, late 17th century