Byzantine period gnostic lead amulet pendant (6th/7th cent.)
Abrasax facing, with the head of a rooster and snakes for legs, holding a whip in his right hand and a shield with his left. Rev. ABPA-CAΞ Star in crescent. Cf. Elsen 124 (2015), 404,
So-called Gnostic amulets not only survive in the form of hardstone gems: they were also produced in the form of lead pendants, rings, beads and tesserae to meet the needs of less wealthy clients. The worship of the ancient demon Abrasax (or Abraxas) rose to great prominence in Roman times through the teachings of the Christian Gnostic Basilides of Alexandria (circa 85-145 AD), who called Abrasax the 'great archon' and the first of the 365 Gnostic Aeons. The etymology of his name is still unclear: it may go back to the Egyptian words 'abrak' and 'sax', translating as 'the honorable and hallowed word', but it is noteworthy that the letters of his name, in Greek isopsephy, add up to 365, the amount of days in a solar year: Α = 1, Β = 2, Ρ = 100, Α = 1, Σ = 200, Α = 1, Ξ = 60, thus: 1+2+100+1+200+1+60 = 365. Basilides' followers believed, among other things, that Abrasax sent Christ as a ghost to the world, which lead to sharp refutations by Early Church Fathers such as Hippolytus of Rome, Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius of Caesarea. The popularity of Basilidianism was mostly restrained to Egypt, where a vivid Gnostic sect is attested in the 2nd-4th centuries, but its legacy still lives on today, as one compelling theory proclaims, in the famous magic word 'abracadabra!'.
Condition: Very Fine
Weight: 4.20 gr
Diameter: 22 mm
|Price realized||260 GBP 27 bids|
|Starting price||1 GBP|