This is a “prayer nut”—a type of wooden bead sometimes included on a rosary. It dates back to Sixteenth Century Flanders. Objects like these were devotional tools of wealthy people in northern Europe. Shaped like nuts, they unfolded to reveal delicately carved scenes from the Bible. This one, which measures about 2 inches across when closed, shows the crucifixion of Jesus and the marriage of Mary and Joseph, among others. It’s an astonishingly precise work of craftsmanship that testifies to the skill of its artist that is, sadly, lost to history.
(Photos: British Museum)
-via Visual News