The Carbunculus (Red Garnet) and the Double Nature of Christ in the Early Medieval West

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Abstract

This paper discusses the employment of garnets on early medieval gold crosses. Despite appearing on a number of pectoral crosses from the Mediterranean as well as from northern Europe, the symbolism of the garnets has never been fully explored. For example, no study took into account that between the late seventh and the first half of the ninth centuries major Christological controversies took place discussing the natures of Christ and the symbolism related to his incarnation. During these centuries, the word meaning ”garnet” gained new nuances in Greek and Latin religious texts: this literary development will also be followed, in order to shed light on the early medieval understanding of the garnets on early medieval crosses. Two examples in particular will be analysed: the Cuthbert Cross (Durham Cathedral), and the Lateran Cross (formerly in the Sancta Sanctorum, Rome).

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-172
JournalKonsthistorisk Tidskrift
Volume86
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Medieval history, symbolic value, Material Culture, theology, Iconoclasm, medieval art, medieval jewellery, reliquaries