Reliquary

DEFINITION

A container or receptacle, such as a coffer or shrine, used to keep or display sacred relics, and usually made of a richly decorated, precious material. Reliquaries have been produced by numerous cultures. In the Christian tradition, they were especially important throughout the Middle Ages. Another name for reliquary, though much less common, is feretory. Feretory is also the area of a church in which relics are kept.(pr. RE-lə-kwə-ree)A quote about relics: "Art among a religious race produces relics; among a military one, trophies; among a commercial one, articles of trade." Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), English Romantic painter.Related links: The Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture defines reliquary and provides an illustration. The Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey, has a wonderful Chamber of Relics. The web page about it displays photos of its collection of beautifully encased relics from early Islamic, including Mohammad's swords, his holy mantle, hair from his beard, his footprint, one of his teeth, among other things.Also see gem, memorabilia, vessel, votive, Wunderkabinett and Wunderkammer.

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