Columns, southern Italy (Sicily or Calabria)

Columns, southern Italy (Sicily or Calabria)

These probably formed part of a pulpit or choir screen in a church in southern Italy. They are extremely rare survivors of Italian early medieval church furnishings carved from wood.

All the columns have circular shafts and squared capitals and are carved out of walnut wood. They seem to have been shortened at the base. Two of the columns are sitting on crouching lions.

All four faces of the capitals bear a mixture of religious imagery and decorative ornament. One of the capitals (in the pair nearest to the windows) refers to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. He is shown carrying a scroll inscribed 'IEREMIA', along with two peacocks symbolising eternal life and two trees.

The columns were all originally coloured and show traces of red, green and yellow paint and white priming.