Antique, 19th century Mother of Pearl Shell Carvings, Palestinian. Bethlehem Christian Icon of convex oval form, finely hand carved in low relief with a central raised panel depicting the “The Nativity”, with the winged angel above.
Shells such as these were sold in the 18th -19th century to Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where they were carved in relief and pierced by hand by local Palestinian craftsmen. In this way, the shells found their way to Europe and elsewhere during the nineteenth century. Orthodox pilgrims from Russia also carried significant numbers back to Russia and so today the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg has an important collection of such shells and other items manufactured in Palestine from the shells. Many of these were transferred from the Winter Palace and the domestic chapels of other Imperials palaces - they seem to have been presented to the royal family by pilgrims returning from the Holy Land. The Vatican Museum also holds related mother-of-pearl Christian items from the same source.
1. Pilgrim Treasures from the Hermitage: Byzantium - Jerusalem: Lund Humphries.
2. CHRISTIAN IN THE HOLY LAND – The Art Of Melchites And Other Denominations Of Orthodox Church” Saint Petersburg 1998.
3. El Arte Palestino de Tallar el Nacar by Fabián Jiménez.
Please note that this particular medallion is a museum Quality art work, and in fact, it could be displayed in the most reputable world museums.
We will also provide the buyer with photocopies of the pages from the mentioned references together with a certificate of authenticity.
CONDITION: The icon is in very good condition free of cracks, chips, repairs, or restorations.
Height: 14.3 cm (5.63 inches).
Width: 13.5 cm (5.31inches).
Due to the shiny surface of the Mother-of-Pearl, it is difficult to photograph. The pictures do not show the details of the carving or the real sparkling pearl color of the surface.