Advanced Search

K-12 Educator
K-12 Student
Museum Visitor
UMMA Docent
UMMA Staff
University Faculty
University Student
Between and Mortarboard


UMMA Object Specific Fields






Query builder

22 Items in this Learning Collection

Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

Censer with Maltese crosses, birds, and columns

Accession Number
1960/2.4

Title
Censer with Maltese crosses, birds, and columns

Artist(s)
Coptic; Egyptian

Object Creation Date
500-699

Medium & Support
bronze

Dimensions
12 3/8 in x 4 1/2 in x 4 3/4 in (31.5 cm x 11.5 cm x 12 cm);12 1/4 in x 4 1/2 in x 4 3/4 in (31.2 cm x 11.5 cm x 12 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Christian liturgy sought to engage not only worshippers’ minds but also their senses, including smell. During liturgical rituals, this censer swung on a chain attached to its lid to scent the church. The incense, usually spices or wood gums, would have been sprinkled over a bed of smoldering coals in the body of the censer, and the sweet fragrance exuded from the perforated lid. The columns encircling the body, the domed lid, and the finial with the bird standing atop a cross give the censer the appearance of a domed church, which visually harmonized the censer with its setting.

Subject matter
During liturgical rituals this Coptic censer would have been swung on a chain attached to its lid in order to scent the church with incense. The incense, usually spices or wood gums, would have been sprinkled over a bed of smoldering coals in the body of the censer, and the sweet fragrance of the burning incense would have exited through the perforated lid. The columns encircling the body of the censer, the domed lid, and the finial give the censer the appearance of a domed church, which would have visually harmonized the censer with its setting.

Physical Description
The body of this cylindrical censer is decorated with eight columns spaced at regular intervals. The lid of the censer consists of an openwork dome divided into sections by eight vertical ribs that converge at its apex. An arched horizontal band intersects the midpoint of the ribs, and these eight junctures are marked with a projecting bird that holds a small bronze ball dangling from its beak. Two segments of the dome are decorated with Maltese crosses while another two feature curved plant forms. The apex is surmounted by a finial comprised of a globe topped by a Maltese cross on which a bird holding a piece of fruit perches.

Primary Object Classification
Ritual Object

Primary Object Type
incense burner

Additional Object Classification(s)
Metalwork

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Coptic (Orthodox Christianity)
Maltese crosses (motif)
bronze (metal)
censers
columns (architectural elements)
incense burners

3 Related Resources

African Christianities
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Docent Materials for Inuit 2: Reflections: An Ordinary Day
(Part of: Docent Information From Training Continuing Education Sessions)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved