DIRCKSZ, Adam
(active around 1500 in southern Netherlands)

Prayer-nut

c. 1500
Boxwood, diameter 4,6 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

At the end of the middle ages, artists produced a variety of small-scale devotional artefacts in the form of small, often portable objects that would assist in prayer and meditation. These objects included among others rosary beads and prayer-nuts.

The picture shows a prayer-nut which opens to display two minuscule Passion reliefs: the Carrying the Cross and the Crucifixion. The reliefs were made from separate pieces of wood which were then fixed onside the hollow hemispheres of the nut with tiny nails.