Crucifix Physical Object

Accession Number
Alternate object names
Pendant Crucifix
Creation Date
circa 1550 – 1620
On this gold and pearl crucifix - open-galleried of triangular section - a Christ figure is mounted as a separate piece, fixed with gold pins at the hands and feet. The open body of the cross was almost certainly designed to hold wood symbolic of the “true cross” upon which Christ was crucified. A scroll above Christ’s head reads “INRI” (“Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”); Latin for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” There are six pearls, two of which are fused together by concretion, suspended by gold wire from loops at the end of each arm and the bottom of the cross. The use of pearls became increasingly widespread in the first half of the seventeenth century: In addition to their decorative value, pearls were used as a symbol for salvation, and they also represented tears and emotion. The back of the crucifix is inscribed with a scrolling vine motif, the vine being a popular symbol for the relationship between God and the faithful, and where the arms intersect, a crown of thorns.

6.0 (length from suspension loop to end of pearls) x 2.7 x 0.9 cm. Measurement from top of cross arms to end of pearls: 2.1 (left arm) x 1.9 (right arm) cm. 10.71 grams.

Exhibition Label
Case Caption (2023):


Spain’s empire was won by conquest and the Spanish believed that their laws, leaders, and the Roman Catholic religion were superior to Indigenous customs, rulers, and spiritual practices.

Priests came to provide emigrants with spiritual support but also to convert Indigenous people. They hastened conversions by asserting that Jesus and the Virgin Mary were bigger, better manifestations of local gods. The Virgin Mary was quickly identified with Pachamama, the goddess of the earth. In 1532, the church that became Lima Cathedral was built on top of a major shrine to Inti, the Inca sun god and the palace of an Inca prince. The Spanish used this suppressive strategy successfully throughout their colonies.
Object Caption (2023):

Gold and pearls (c.1600)
Gift of Jamestown Inc.

The hollow body of this cross was originally inlaid with wood, symbolizing both the true cross and a spirit of humility. The pendant pearls suggest the purity of salvation but also tears.
Previous Exhibit Case Caption: Removed 2022. Crucifix This gold and pearl crucifix shows Christ with a scroll above his head reading “INRI”, Latin for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Already popular in jewelry, pearls became more widespread in the first half of the 1600s. In addition to their decorative value, they were a symbol of salvation and represented tears. The back of this crucifix is inscribed with a scrolling vine motif which represents the relationship between Gold and His followers.