The Reliquary Effect

Enshrining the Sacred Object

Cynthia Hahn

The Reliquary Effect

Cynthia Hahn

Distributed for Reaktion Books

304 pages | 65 color plates, 35 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 | © 2016
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9781780236551 Published February 2017 For sale in North and South America only
From skeletons to strips of cloth to little pieces of dust, reliquaries can be found in many forms, and while sometimes they may seem grotesque on their surface, they are nonetheless invested with great spiritual and memorial value. In this book, Cynthia Hahn offers the first full survey in English of the societal value of reliquaries, showing how they commemorate religious and historical events and, more important, inspire awe, faith, and, for many, the miraculous.
            Hahn looks deeply into the Christian tradition, examining relics and reliquaries throughout history and around the world, going from the earliest years of the cult of saints through to the post-Reformation response. She looks at relic footprints, incorrupt bodies, the Crown of Thorns, the Shroud of Turin, and many other renowned relics, and she shows how the architectural creation of sacred space and the evocation of the biblical tradition of the temple is central to the reliquary’s numinous power. She also discusses relics from other traditions—especially from Buddhism and Islam—and she even looks at how reliquaries figure in contemporary art. Fascinatingly illustrated throughout, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the enduring power of sacred objects.
 
Contents
Introduction: The Eternal Relic
1 Relics and Reliquaries: Matter, Meaning, Multiplication
2 Objects of Infinite Power: Relics in Early Middle Ages
3 Reliquaries of the Late Medieval and Renaissance
4 The Reliquary After Trent: The Affective, the Collective
5 Relics Destroyed, Relics Returned, Relics Reinvented: The French Revolution, Napoleon, Celebrity, the Photograph
6 The Reliquary Effect: Contemporary Artists and Strategies of the Relic
Conclusion
References
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
 
Review Quotes
Anthropology Review Database
“As Hahn convincingly shows in her detailed and richly illustrated new book, the relics themselves have the predominant objects of interest over the years for scholars and worshippers alike, but the reliquaries are important and informative art and religious objects in their own right. . . . Beyond the details of medieval Christian art, Hahn’s book proves that the reliquary effect is a thriving force in social life, in the past, present, and future.”
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