Antiquities Dealer Ali Aboutaam Discovers Jesus Christ Pendant’s History

Ali Aboutaam Jesus Christ

Byzantine Amethyst Cameo of Christ Pantokrator\n11th-12th century A.D.\nL: 2.29 cm\n\nW: 2.96 cm\nH: 1.31 cm

Next Sunday, April 16, at 2 p.m., in Geneva, Switzerland, Ali Aboutaam, President of Phoenix Ancient Art, one of the world's leading dealers in rare and exquisite antiquities, will lecture about the exciting findings of a rare Byzantine amethyst cameo pendant of Jesus Christ (Christ Pantokrator). Christ Pantokrator is represented in half-length and full-face with his head slightly turned to the left. In the frame of the gem on both sides of the shoulders, one can see engravings of Greek characters: I(…)C X(…)C (Jesus Christ). This remarkable sparkling and pure amethyst gem is closely linked to the sapphire cameo of St. John the Baptist housed in the Louvre (MS 91).

Ali Aboutaam excitedly says, "While conducting research about the provenance of this spectacular gem, I stumbled upon a black-and-white photo of this piece as being part of an exhibition 'L'Antiquité Chrétienne' at the Musée du Louvre in 1958!" The exhibition consisted of 81 Christian objects and was published by Etienne Coche de la Ferté in Paris.

The representation of Christ Pantokrator on a precious stone cameo is very rare. A small group dated to this period was preserved, including a beautiful sapphire cameo, now in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection.

Byzantium rediscovered an appreciation for glyptic after the iconoclastic crisis, yet exclusively favoring religious subjects showing Christ, the Virgin and the saints in either half- or full-length. Amethyst and sapphire were luxury stones used almost exclusively for the most prestigious objects. 

Ali adds, "It is so rare to find old publications for miniature objects like this one because these were intimately and privately treasured in jewelry boxes and small drawers. One can imagine the pendant decorating the necklace close to the heart of a faithful Christian in the 12th century."

The lecture will be at 6, rue Verdaine in Old Town, Geneva on Sunday, April 16, 2023.


With galleries in New York City (Electrum) and Geneva, Switzerland, Phoenix Ancient Art is one of the world's leading dealers in rare and exquisite antiquities with a focus on Greek and Roman, Near Eastern and Egyptian art. Its works of art have been acquired by world-class museums around the world, as well as by private collectors. Phoenix Ancient Art is a second-generation family business that was founded by Sleiman Aboutaam in 1968 and continues today under the leadership of his sons Hicham and Ali Aboutaam.

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Ali Aboutaam
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Original Source: Antiquities Dealer Ali Aboutaam Discovers Jesus Christ Pendant's History