Playful in Prayer? A Miniature Tabernacle – Religious Artifacts From The 16th Century

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This miniature tabernacle – a portable shrine – is a boxwood microcarving which is as much a virtuoso plaything as an aid to devotion.

images/text credit : British Museum

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Made in the northern Netherlands around 1510, this extraordinary object comes apart in three main sections, unfolding like a flower to reveal tiny carved scenes telling the life of Jesus Christ.

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They’re also extremely tiny. Even the pins that hold everything together are smaller than a seed of grass, and each scene is carved into a bead no larger than a golf ball!

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Dora Thornton, Curator of the Waddesdon Bequest at the British Museum, explores this miniature tabernacle, revealing the intricacies and mechanisms of this incredible piece of carved boxwood.

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The artists who carved these had to have used magnifications, because they’re far too small to have been made using only the naked eye.

The Waddesdon Bequest is a collection of medieval and Renaissance treasures bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild in 1898.

VIAThe British Museum
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