Medieval Silver Gilt Tau Cross Pendant
This is superb medieval silver-gilt Tau Cross pendant, dating to the 15th - 16th century. The Tau Cross was associated with Saint Anthony (the Great), worn as a talisman, to protect the wearer from the plague and infectious disease.
It is decorated with the crucified Christ on one side and the Virgin and Child on the other. The Virgin is depicted as standing on a crescent moon, this theme refers to the vision of Saint John (Revelation 12:1), "A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet"; and a passage in the Song of Solomon (6:9), "Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun...." The subject was one of several favored by the Brotherhood of the Rosary during the late fifteenth century. Prayers before this image, together with confession and penitence, carried the promise of an indulgence. Thus the pendant may have been worn on a Rosary or a simple chain, both as a talisman for protection and one of meditation. A 15th-century example in gold is held by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1990.283a, b).
The condition of this example is excellent for an excavated find, the gilding is perfect except for a slight loss on one edge (revealing tarnished silver). The suspension loop is intact and all original, enabling the pendant to be worn again today.
OBJECT: Tau Cross
DATE: c. 15th - 16th century A.D.
SIZE: 17mm x 13mm x 2mm (with loop 23mm)
WEIGHT: 1.29 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European private collection