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Coventry Ring

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    AF.897

  • Title (object)

    • Coventry Ring
  • Description

    Finger-ring; gold; engraved. The thick broad broad hoop depicts Christ standing in tomb with the Cross and the Instruments of Passion behind him; the Five Wounds of Christ are engraved at intervals around the hoop, each between a hieroglyph of the wounds, the largest ('the well of everlasting life') next to Christ and the others in pairs one above the other, all in black letter, 'The well of pitty, the well of merci, the well of confort, the well of gracy, the well of everlastingh lyffe'; inscription in black-letter within hoop reads 'Wulnera quinq dei sunt medicina mei pia / crux et passio Cri sunt medicina michi jaspar / melchior baltasar ananyzapta tetragrammaton'. The inscriptions originally said to be enamelled black, the wounds and drops of blood originally said to be enamelled red.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 15thC(late)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 27.2 millimetres (exterior of hoop)
    • Depth: 16.5 millimetres
    • Weight: 786 grains
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        on the interior
      • Inscription Content

        Wulnera quinq dei sunt medicina mei pia / crux et passio Cri sunt medicina michi jaspar / melchior baltasar ananyzapta tetragrammaton.
      • Inscription Translation

        The five wounds of God are my medicine, the holy cross and passion of Christ are my medicine, Caspar Melchior Baltazar ananyzapta tetragrammaton
      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        on the exterior
      • Inscription Content

        The well of pitty, the well of merci, the well of confort, the well of gracy, the well of ewerlastingh lyffe.
      • Inscription Comment

        Names of the Five Wounds
  • Curator's comments

    The Five Wounds were considered as having protective qualities. The interior inscription adds the names of the Three Kings and the magical words 'ananyzapta' and 'tetragrammaton'. The names of the Magi were believed to guard against various forms of sickness, and the word 'ananyzapta' was a talisman against sudden or violent death. The meaning of this word is explained as 'Antidotum Nazareni Auferat Necem Intoxicationis Sanctificet Alimenta Pocula Trinitas Alma' (May the antidote of Jesus avert death by poisioning and the Holy Trinity sanctify my food and drink). The 'tetragrammaton' is the name given to the four Hebrew letters that form the name of God.
    The will of Sir Edmund Shaw, an important London goldsmith of the second half of the 15th century, refers to the making of 16 such rings, to be distributed to those close to him. They were to be made 'of fyne gold' and 'graven with the well of petey, the well of mercy and the well of everlasting lyff'.

    See:
    Dalton & Tonnochy, A Guide to the Medieval Antiquities and Objects of Later Date..., 1924, p151.
    Gray, The Five Wounds of Our Lord, Notes and Queries, 1963, vol. 208, pp50-51; 82-89; 127-134; 163-168.
    Finaldi, The Image of Christ: Seeing Salvation, 2000, no63.

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  • Bibliography

    • Dalton 1912 no. 718 bibliographic details
    • Ward et al 1981 no189 bibliographic details
    • Marks & Williamson 2003 no211 bibliographic details
    • Robinson 2008 p. 71 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G40/dc14/sA

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2017 14 Feb - 30 Apr, Sarasota, Marble and John Ringling Museum of Art, A Sense of Beauty: Medieval Art and the Five Senses
    2016-2017 15 Oct - 8 Jan, Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, A Sense of Beauty: Medieval Art and the Five Senses
    2003-2004 9 Oct-18 Jan, London, V&A, Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547
    2000 23 Feb-7 May, London, The National Gallery, Seeing Salvation: The Image of Christ

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1897

  • Acquisition notes

    Found 1802.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    AF.897

Finger-ring; gold; engraved; massive broad band; depicts Christ standing in tomb with cross and instruments of Passion behind him; Five Wounds are at intervals round hoop, one large and single, others smaller and in pairs; inscriptions between wounds; ins

Finger-ring; gold; engraved; massive broad band; depicts Christ standing in tomb with cross and instruments of Passion behind him; Five Wounds are at intervals round hoop, one large and single, others smaller and in pairs; inscriptions between wounds; ins

Image description

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Object reference number: MCM6155

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