Situla

Situla

Holy Water Bucket or Situla
Milan, Italy
About 980
Carved elephant ivory
Height 16 cm
Museum no. A.18-1933

A situla is a bucket designed to hold holy water. Ivory situlae are very rare and were apparently only made for special ceremonial occasions. This example is carved with twelve scenes from the Passion of Christ arranged in two rows. It was probably made around 980 for the visit of the German Holy Roman Emperor Otto II to Milan.

There are three bands of inscriptions. The lower band runs: 'May the Father, who added thrice five to the years of Hezekiah, grant many lustres to the august Otto. Reverently, Caesar, the anointing vessel wishes to be remembered for its art.'