Antiquities > Ancient and Medieval Finger Rings

Ring, Crusader-era, IHS intaglio, c. 11th-13th Cent.

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Mayadigger:
Ave!

Ring, Crusader-era, IHS intaglio, c. 11th-13th Cent.

Copper alloy, Ring size 9 1/2

This is a Christo gram - a combination of letters that represent the holy name "Jesus." Early scribes would abbreviate the sacred names of Jesus by using the first two letters of the name, or the first and last letters, with a line over the letters. For example, the Greek letters Chi-Rho (which looks like our English X and P) was an abbreviation for the name "Christ." Likewise, I (iota) and H (eta) are the first two Greek letters for "Jesus." Sometime in the second century, the third letter, S (sigma), was added, thereby rendering IHS. Christo grams, such as XP or IHS, served as secret codes, whereby inscribed on a tomb, they indicated a deceased Christian, or on a doorpost, a Christian home.

In the 16th century, this Christo gram was adopted by the religious order of the Society of Jesus ("Jesuits"), and henceforth these rings were often referred to as "Jesuits rings."

Best to all,

Kevin

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