Roman Chalcedony Intaglio of Abraxas
An ancient Roman green chalcedony magical gem carved with an intaglio image of Abraxas. The dog-headed serpent-legged deity is holding a shield in one hand and a whip in the other.
Ca. 2nd - 3rd century AD.
Abraxas was a cult deity of the Gnostics. The deity was associated astronomical bodies and their supposed magical qualities. The seven letters spelling its name may represent each of the seven known planets. The initial spelling was "Abrasax," the spelling of "Abraxas" seen today probably originates in the confusion made between the Greek letters Sigma and Xi in the Latin transliteration. The word Abraxas is related to the magical utterance, "Abracadabra." Many ancient gems, almost always of green stone, attest to the widespread belief in the deity's amuletic magical powers.
cf.: The British Museum, London, museum no. 1986,0501.40.
Formerly in a European private collection.