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Ivory Staff Terminal from Alcester 3D Model
Early 11th Century ivory staff terminal in the form of a tau cross (named after the Greek letter T) from Alcester, Warwickshire. A symbol of authority, it is carried by the head of a monastery or a bishop to indicate their pastoral responsibilities. The Alcester tau is one of the most technically accomplished and elegant examples of ivory carving of the period. Originally, the deeply undercut decoration was backed with gold foil and perhaps hung with seed pearls. Thematically, it proclaims the redemptive Christian message through the paired images of Crucifixion and the risen Christ subduing sin and death (Psalm 91:13). The beasts and foliage flanking their images may be seen as a version of the inhabited vine scroll and so as a symbol of Creation. Stylistically, it seems closer to manuscript traditions with the densely profuse acanthus frieze, interlaced animal heads and small-scale scenes strongly reminiscent of the Grimbald Gospels (British Library).
BM Collections Online: http://bit.ly/2uhrBjV