Tabernacle, Museum no. 7650-1861

Tabernacle, probably from the church of St Pantaleon
Gilded bronze and copper on a wooden core with champlevé enamel and walrus ivory
Cologne, Lower Rhine, Germany
About 1180
Museum no. 7650-1861

This tour de force of Romanesque goldsmiths' work and carving combines widely varied foliage patterns with ivory figures that are classically inspired. Its function has been much debated. The iconography or subject matter centres on Christ's redemption of mankind, fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. This indicates that the tabernacle proabably housed the consecrated bread for the Mass.