An exceptional Byzantine weight with unusually complex early Christian iconography
Lot 3585
BYZANTINE. 5th-7th centuries. Weight of 1 Libra (Bronze, 53x53 mm, 322.53 g, 3 h), a square commercial weight with plain edges. CRIS-TVA Draped bust of Christ, beardless and with long hair, facing slightly to left, within rectangular frame; around, draped bare-headed busts of the Four Evangelists (?); all engraved in outline; the faces and Christ's drapery inlaid in silver. Rev. 𐊁A with star above; all engraved in outline and inlaid in silver. CPAI -. MAH -. Pondera -. Unpublished and of great importance. A highly interesting and extremely impressive weight with unusually complex early Christian iconography. Part of the inlays missing and with some scratches on the obverse, otherwise, good very fine.


From a European collection, acquired before 2021.

Most early Byzantine weights are devoid of any iconographic elements apart from a cross or minor ornaments. Some that are decorated show one or several emperors, with an exceptional few showing more complex iconography. All the more exciting then is the appearance of this intriguing weight which shows a young, beardless Christ with long hair in the center surrounded by four figures. Though such a depiction of Christ may be unfamiliar to the modern viewer, Christian art was not yet fully set in its later conventions during the 5th-7th centuries. Fine parallels can be found in the mosaics of Ravenna, where the Arian Baptistry and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia have similar depictions of a youthful, long-haired Christ, which were ultimately derived from pagan depictions of Apollo.

The four figures adorning the corners sadly have no defining attributes, but the fact that there are four strongly hints toward the Four Evangelists, also found in Ravenna as beardless men. More perplexing is the obverse legend CRISTVA, a very unusual form for which this cataloguer sadly has not found a satisfactory explanation. Nonetheless, this only adds to the mystery of this intriguing and unusually attractive weight.
Starting price:
1000 CHF
Current bid:
1000 CHF
Bid increment:
100 CHF
Minimum bid:
1100 CHF
Number of bids:
Time left:
Closing time: 05-Dec-22, 20:03:00 CET
All winning bids are subject to an 18.5% buyer's fee.

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