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Diptych with Scenes of the Passion and Afterlife of Christ, 1250Ė70
elephant ivory with traces of paint
8 3/16 x 7 1/16 x 3/8 inches
Museum Purchase 183:1928

This intricate object with columns and towers is like a tiny cathedral made from elephant ivory. Pointed arches which enclose each of the eighteen scenes are typical of Gothic architecture, a prominent building style in France in the thirteenth century. This diptych (DIP-tick) with two hinged parts would have been used during personal prayer in a private setting such as a bedroom. The scenes tell the story of Jesus Christís last days on earth. In the bottom row, from left to right, is the story of Judasís betrayal of Jesus with a kiss and Judasís suicide by hanging; the middle row is made up of events from the Crucifixion and burial; and the top row shows the resurrected Christ appearing to his followers. In the final scene in the top right corner we see Jesusís feet as he ascends bodily into heaven.

For younger students:
There is one figure that appears in many of the scenes. Can you find him? What is he doing in each scene? If you were going to make a diptych, what materials would you use?

For older students:
The diptych was once painted. How would this affect your reaction to the work? What does the shape and appearance of the diptych remind you of? Explain some reasons for your answer.

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