Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: The Spanish Inquisition Emerald Egg, 1620-30

Pendant of Emerald and Enameled Gold
Spain 1620-1630
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Here’s a wild bit of Seventeenth Century Spanish weirdness. It’s incredibly beautiful and made of the world’s finest materials, yet also, a startling reminder of the Spanish Inquisition.

Made in Spain around 1620 to 1630, this egg-shaped emerald drop is encased in enameled gold. The black and white cross that we see here is that of the Roman Catholic Dominican order. The enameled green cross on the back symbolizes the hope of repentance before punishment. This is flanked by an olive branch of reconciliation and a sword of punishment.

A penitent would have worn this pendant to show piety and agreement with the policies of the Inquisition in the suppression of heresy.

1 comment:

Noemí said...

The back decoration is the coat of arms of the Inquisition, green was the color of this congregation because of the principal element of the blazon is the "veracuz"-true cross-). Probably the emerald has colombian origin and was a gift to an sculpture of Our Lady of the Rosary (Patroness of dominican order), one of the three tear shaped pearls that decorated the cross of the rosary.
Is a too much expensive object to be weared by a simple condemned by inquisition (usually poor and none catholic)