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14K+ Gold Ring w/ 19th C. Victorian Carnelian Intaglio

Europe, Victorian Era, ca. 19th century CE. An extremely special intaglio, finely carved from a large piece of carnelian and depicting a seated male steadying the horns of a bull with several onlookers behind - two holding wreaths and baskets on the left and two looking from the arched doorway on the right - perhaps representing a taurobolium or toaroctony scene of the Mithraic Mysteries (see more below). In addition to the impressive carved scene, the inherent beauty of the carnelian - vermilion in color and translucent when held to the light - adds to the piece as well. The oval carnelian is housed in a brilliant gold setting - the gold being more than 14 karat - with an octagonal border and a substantive shank. Size: intaglio measures .875" L x .75" W (2.2 cm x 1.9 cm); US Ring Size: 6.25; Total Weight: 6.8 grams

Ancient Roman religious practices included the taurobolium, a ritual in which a bull was sacrificed to secure the well being of the populace and the state during the 2nd to 4th centuries CE. In addition, bull sacrifices played a major role in the Mithraic Mysteries of the 1st to 4th centuries CE. In tauroctony art of this mystery cult, the god Mithras slays a sacrificial bull. While the actual meaning of this practice remains under speculation, due to the appearance of the bull and the fact that the scene is oftentimes accompanied by astrological references, the bull is usually interpreted as a representation of the constellation of Taurus. Furthermore, the toauroctony scene has also been associated with Nike, the goddess of victory.

Condition: Slight surface wear to the intaglio as shown. Minor scratches to the gold setting. Otherwise very good.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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