This pair of finely carved bust-length figures depicts two men in ecclesiastical garb. On the right appears an older figure who wears elaborate vestments and a papal tiara with a book in his left hand. His deeply lined and wrinkled face conveys a patient wisdom and authority as he stares directly ahead. His more youthful companion, dressed in a simpler collared robe and brimless cap, glances introspectively aside. He grasps an unfurled scroll in his left hand and a diminutive lion stares out from its perch on his left shoulder.
This pair of bust-length figures represents an aged Saint Gregory the Great crowned with a papal tiara and a younger Saint Jerome with a miniature lion, his usual attribute, resting on his shoulder. Due to the fundamental importance of their writings in Catholicism they came to be known as Doctors of the Church, and these two busts probably appeared alongside busts of the other two doctors, Saints Ambrose and Augustine, in the base of an elaborate carved altarpiece.
This small carved boxwood cross is divided on each face into five compartments containing Christian religious scenes. The cross is set in a stand decorated with mother-of-pearl and green glass-paste stones.
This small sanctification cross, which would have been used for holy water ceremonies in the Orthodox church, depicts six scenes drawn from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary along with the four Evangelists writing the gospels. The Baptism of Christ appears in the center of one side of the cross with the Annunciation above and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple below, while two Evangelists are depicted in the horizontal arm. The Crucifixion serves as the central scene on the other side, with Doubting Thomas above, Christ's Descent into Hell below, and two more Evangelists on the horizontal arm of the cross.
A standing, bearded figure of St. Christopher, broken off at the knees, holds the Christ child on his right shoulder while leaning upon a staff in his left hand. The child, whose head is encircled by a halo, wears a long cloak over his robe and rests his left hand upon an orb in his lap. The red and brown polychromy is a later addition.
This alabaster sculpture represents St. Christopher transporting the Christ child on his right shoulder across a river, although the waters that once swirled around the saint's legs were lost when the figure was broken at the knees. The relatively large size of this sculpture indicates that it probably served as the principle devotional figure in a small altarpiece.
Two rampant dragons with open wings, wide flared tails and red-painted eyes stand facing one another with a large plant form held between them.
This architectural boss decorated with two dragons was originally placed in the crown of a ceiling vault at the point where the ribs of the vault met. The spreading forms of the dragons's wings and tails would have echoed the expansive radial pattern formed by the ribs, while the boss itself would have simultaneously emphasized the center of the vault.
This ceiling boss features four faces with traces of paint that are arranged in a radial pattern with the crowns of their heads converging on a single, central point. Two of the faces are female, identifiable by the wimples worn on their heads, while the other two, wearing small pointed caps and sporting beards, are male. The symmetrical regularity of the piece is counterbalanced by subtle asymmetries introduced by differences in detail and the sequence of facial types.
This architectural boss decorated with four faces was originally placed in the crown of a ceiling vault at the point where the ribs of the vault met. The arrangement of the four faces would have reinforced the expansive radial pattern formed by the ribs while the boss itself would have simultaneously emphasized the center of the vault.
A bearded man, wearing a loincloth and a long trailing headband, hangs from a cross by his arms, which have split open beneath the ropes that bind them. His left leg hangs downward and passes behind his right foot, which perches precariously on a forked branch. He strains to his left and gazes upward with his mouth open in a tortured movement augmented by the dramatic sweeps of drapery that frame his torso.
This bearded figure bound to a cross represents the Good Thief described in the gospel of Luke who was crucified alongside Christ and decried the injustice of Christ's execution (Luke 23:39-43). This sculpture once formed part of a complex, multi-figure altarpiece depicting the Crucifixion in which the Good Thief would have appeared next to a larger figure of the crucified Christ.
The Buddha in bhumisparsa mudra (the gesture of touching the earth with his right hand, palm inward), signaling his victory over Mara. He is shown under three leaves, indicating the bodhi tree under which he sat while meditating before reaching an awakening. He is shown flanked by two stupas, or reliquary monuments, symbolizing his attainment of nirvana.
The founder of Buddhism is known as Shakyamuni, the “sage (muni) of the Shakya clan.” He is shown here in the gesture of bhumisparsha mudra, or “calling the earth to witness.” The pose is based on a moment in his life when, as he sat down to meditate in a grove at Bodh Gaya, he was challenged by the evil Mara, who questioned his qualifications to earn enlightenment. Shakyamuni reached down with his right hand to touch the Earth, the sole witness of the countless past lives through which he had accumulated merit.
The two small objects to either side of the Buddha are stupas, reliquaries that house his physical remains and symbolize his nirvana, or release from the bonds of transmigration. This small image may have been carved in Bodh Gaya as a souvenir for pilgrims to the site.