This tiny 16th-century rosary bead has 5 scenes from the Bible carved into it

This tiny 16th-century rosary bead has 5 scenes from the Bible carved into it

The incredibly detailed bead was probably carved with the use of a magnifying glass.

Beginning in the 15th century, Dutch craftsman carved incredibly detailed biblical scenes into pieces of wood that could fit in one’s pocket. These miniature creations were mostly made for an elite clientele that included royalty, whose own portraits often formed part of the design.

This boxwood rosary bead, which is part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters museum, was carved in the Netherlands in the early 16th century. Less than three inches in diameter, the bead opens on hinges to form a triptych made up of intricately carved scenes from the Bible. The Dutch woodworkers who created it must have used magnifying glasses and the tiniest of instruments to create this miniature world.

On the left the Journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity are pictured; in the center is the Journey of the Magi and the Adoration of the infant Jesus; and at the right is the Presentation of the Child in the Temple at Jerusalem.

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In the lower half of the opened bead, we see the Crucifixion of Jesus, and on the outside of the wings covering the top of the bead, Adam and Eve are pictured in the Garden of Eden.

Carved into the scene is the text from Psalm 71:10, written in Latin:

Let us raise our hearts together with our hands to the Lord in heaven (Lamentations 3:41)

Attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow (Lamentations 1:12)

The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts (Psalm 71:10)

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View the photos below to get a closer view of this amazing object designed to aid the worlds’ most powerful people in their prayer.

1. Rosary bead from the Netherlands, 16th century

Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion are two of the scenes carved into the bead.

Those praying with this beautiful bead could contemplate the entire history of salvation, from Creation to the death and Resurrection of Jesus.

2. Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion are two of the scenes carved into the bead.

Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion are two of the scenes carved into the bead.

3. Close-up view of the Journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity

Close-up view of the Journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity

4. At the center is the Journey of the Magi and the Adoration of the infant Jesus.

At the center is the Journey of the Magi and the Adoration of the infant Jesus.

5. To the right, the Presentation of the Child in the Temple at Jerusalem

To the right, the Presentation of the Child in the Temple at Jerusalem

6. Latin inscriptions from the Bible

Latin inscriptions from the Bible

Around the exterior of the upper half of the bead are carved the words LEVEMVS CORDA NOSTRA CVM MANIBVS AD D[o]MIN[e] C[o]E[los]

7. The Crucifixion is carved into the lower half of the interior of the bead.

The Crucifixion is carved into the lower half of the interior of the bead.

8. The top of the bead

The top of the bead

The Dutch woodcarvers who created this intricately carved bead probably used magnifying glasses in the process.

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