16th Century Boxwood Carving’s Mystery

There are only 135 known miniature boxwood carvings and they have been puzzling art specialists all over the world. Recently, researchers have gathered some of these tiny religious pieces from museums and private collections to further study their secrets and have found a few very interesting answers.

Using micro-CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software, researchers found out just how intricate these miniature altars really are. The inner layers are pieced together, hiding the joints so completely, that only a microscope or an X-ray can detect them. The pieces also incorporate pins, smaller than a grass seed. However, much of the production process remains unknown, because traces of gold and other decoration materials conceal the X-ray views.

More info: ago. ca | YouTube (h/t: colossal)

Researchers took these 500-year-old miniature boxwood carvings to the lab to find out their secrets


They think these miniatures were made between 1500 and 1530 in Flanders or the Netherlands


The human eye isn’t able to analyze details this tiny


So researchers used micro-CT scanning and Advanced 3D Analysis Software

Photography by Ian Lefebvre

To find out how intricate the pieces really are


They found joints in the inner layers so tiny that only a microscope or an X-ray can detect them


And pins, smaller than a grass seed


But even the advanced technology couldn’t see everything


Because traces of gold and other decoration materials conceal the X-ray views


The miniatures were a result of a rising new social class in Europe that created a demand for these high-quality portable religious carvings

Photography by Craig Boyko

However, soon the Reformation began and a lot of church-related accessories went out of fashion


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