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John R. Lenz, Robert Hillenbrand, Catherine B. Asher, Puay-Peng Ho, Nicholas Penny and Chris Brooks

A place of burial or the marking of a grave. As the former it can take the form of a chamber, vault, Crypt, Sarcophagus or shrine (see Shrine), while as the latter it can take the form of a monument or Mausoleum, usually built of stone, erected over a grave to commemorate the dead. The wide variety of tombs, from the simplest multiple-grave burial mound to the most elaborate architectural construction, has been determined by historical, social and geographical factors. Tombs are associated particularly with cultures that bury rather than cremate their dead; for this reason there was little incidence of tomb construction in the Indian subcontinent or South-east Asia before the spread to these lands of Islam in the 12th and 14th centuries respectively. Whatever the case, tombs reveal much about the civilizations that produced them.

From ancient Egypt to the Mediterranean civilizations of Greece and Rome, the tombs of the ancient world cover a broad spectrum of types and include some of the most impressive architectural monuments of antiquity....



Raised platform or dais. The term was originally used for the official station of the praetor at one end of an ancient Roman basilica. It later came to refer to the bishop’s throne in a Christian basilica and, gradually, to the apse (i.e. the area of the church containing the throne). It is now used for any raised area in a church, such as a ...


Michael Ellul

Maltese family of bronze-founders. Originally from Haute Provence, they arrived in Malta in 1530 with the Order of St John of the Knights Hospitaller. Between 1700 and 1798 the family was responsible for the Order’s foundry in Valletta. The first family member recorded working in Malta was Francesco Trigance (i) (c. 1660–1737), who was involved in the casting of the fine bronze statue of Grand Master Antonio Manuel de Vilhena (1734) near The Mall in Floriana. The best-known foundry operators were Francesco Trigance (ii) and his brother Gioacchino Trigance (b 1746), grandsons of Francesco (i). Francesco (ii) worked in Turin, where he produced a bronze cannon, signed and dated 1769 (now in Great Siege Square, Valletta). The Trigance brothers also cast a number of church bells and made a medal-cutting machine for the Order’s mint. When Napoleon expelled the Order from Malta in 1798...


Victor M. Schmidt

Term used to define a picture consisting of three parts and denoting both the object itself and its compositional form. As an object the triptych may vary in size and material, but usually consists of a central panel flanked by wings (or shutters), which may be hinged; as a compositional form it is a tripartite structure, often with an emphasized central element. Although its imagery was, until the 19th century at least, predominantly religious, the object as such was not tied to a specific function.

Although the noun triptychon seems to be a relatively modern neologism, triptychs did exist in antiquity as cult images, portraits and independent paintings. The two main functions of the wings, protection and limiting the times when the inside could be viewed, are evident at this early stage. Among the earliest surviving triptychs with Christian imagery are early Byzantine painted icons, middle Byzantine ivories and reliquaries of the Holy Cross. The exterior of these icons and ivories is plain or decorated with a cross. One such reliquary, incorporated in the ...


Michael Ellul

Maltese family of silversmiths, architects and designers. The first recorded family member is Carlo Troisi (fl 1697–1736), followed by Andrea Troisi (fl 1750), Pietro Paolo Troisi (?1700–50) and Massimiliano Troisi (fl 1794). A silver sugar bowl (1775–97; London, Mus. Order St John) is attributed to Aloisio Troisi, probably a member of the same family. During the 17th and 18th centuries various members of the Troisi family filled the post of Master of the Mint of the Order of St John of the Knights Hospitaller. The Mint was established in Valletta, Malta, in 1566. The best-known Troisi silversmith is Pietro Paolo, who was also an architect. His best work is the Altar of Repose, which he designed for Mdina Cathedral, and which was constructed by the Maltese painter Francesco Vincenzo Zahra in 1750. It is a magnificent Baroque scenographic creation in wood executed in a masterful ...


Nigel J. Morgan and Pauline Johnstone

Garments and items used by the clergy.

Nigel J. Morgan

The form of ecclesiastical vestments in the Early Christian period and during the Middle Ages is known largely from works of art rather than extant objects. Textiles are susceptible to decay with time, and although a number of vestments survive from the 14th and 15th centuries, few survive from the earlier centuries, when vestment forms were developing. Visual information is provided by mosaics, wall, panel and manuscript paintings, ivories, illuminated manuscripts and above all from tomb sculpture and sepulchral brasses.

Such evidence is abundant from the 6th century, but from the earliest years of the development of vesture for the rituals of the church it is largely lacking. It can generally be concluded, however, that most Christian vestments were derived from late Roman secular dress. It is unlikely that the ritual garments of the Jewish levitical priesthood had much influence on this early development, although this cannot be completely excluded. In the Middle Ages, when it was of importance to explain the symbolic function of vestments, writers frequently linked the Christian vestments with those described in the Old Testament for Aaron and the priests of the Old Law. Such medieval interpretations have clouded the issue as to whether any aspect of Christian vesture did originate in Jewish forms....


Dillian Gordon

Portable diptych (London, NG), painted on both sides (each wing 475×292 mm, egg tempera on oak), made c. 1395–9. The Wilton Diptych is named after Wilton House, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, its location from 1705 until 1929 when it was acquired by the National Gallery, London. Its subject-matter is straightforward, but its meaning enigmatic, its purpose and patron a matter of debate, and its painter and his nationality unknown.

The interior of the left wing depicts King Richard II (reg 1377–99) with SS Edmund, Edward the Confessor, and John the Baptist, while the exterior has the royal arms of England and France impaled with the arms of Edward the Confessor, with a helmet, cap of maintenance, and lion statant guardant. The right wing is painted with the Virgin and Child with angels on the interior and the exterior has a white hart lodged, chained, and gorged with a crown.

In the interior of the left wing Richard II kneels; he wears his personal emblem of the white hart, and a collar of double broomcods. He is presented by St Edward the Confessor, King of England (...


Katrin Kogman Appel


Illuminated Hebrew prayerbook for holy days in two volumes (vol. 1: Wurzburg(?), 1272; vol. 2: late 13th century; Jerusalem, N. Lib., MS. heb. 4°781). As is common for Ashkenazi Machzorim, the Worms Machzor does not contain statutory prayers, but optional liturgical poems (piyyutim), common according to the Ashkenazi rites. The two volumes that currently constitute the Worms Machzor did not originally belong together, but must have been joined at some later stage during the history of the book, when it served the community of Worms . Textual evidence points at the possibility that the second volume reflects the local prayer rite of Worms and did not originate in Würzburg.

It is primarily the first volume that stands out in terms of decoration, whereas the second is sparsely illuminated. The decorations appear as initial word panels, large arches framing several of the text pages, and marginal scenes on the outer, upper, and bottom margins, some of which were trimmed during later bindings. The scenes relate to the contents of the ...