The Prayer Nut – A Medieval Icon

Explore the fabulous microscopic interior of this magnificent Fifteenth century Prayer Nut, from the collection of the world renowned Rijksmuseum.

The prayer nut

Watch a video on how the delicate inner chambers of the Prayer Nut were examined in detail below

This delicate sphere (in the technicians hands above) was microscopically carved out of soft boxwood using tiny knives and chisels by a medieval artisan. It was an objet d’art, created for the 15th century nobility in the Netherlands, so that an individual could experience the Passion of Christ in an enhanced form of private worship.

This Prayer Nut was first investigated by scholars at the Rijksmuseum because they knew that turpenoids (or aromatic fragrances) had been inserted within the delicate cavity of Gothic filigree, flawlessly built around the central carving. The fragrances (and in some cases these may have even included a form of cannabis) were intended to heighten the emotional experience for the person using the Prayer Nut.