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Acadian House Museum

Figurine, Religious

Accession number: 2001.002.009
Date: before 2001
Materials: metal
Measurements: 1 cm W x 3 cm H x 2.5 cm Diameter
Narrative: This small figurine is most likely an iconic representation of the Virgin Mary, otherwise known as the Mother of God, or the Mother of Jesus Christ, or Mary the Mother of God, and also her son Jesus Christ in his infancy. The small, metal figurine lacks detail and is a generalized shape of a female figure and baby. There is varying information about her life, and the information that is available is in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and from the scripts of the early Christian and Jewish witnesses. When the Virgin Mary was born is unknown, but the majority believe that her father was Joachim, from the royal family of David, and that her mother was Anna, a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron. Where she was born is not for certain, although there are three theories. The first is that she was born and educated in the House of the Holy, as in the writing of ‘De nativ. S. Mariae’. The second is that she was born in Sephoris, approximately three miles north of Bethlehem, in the residence of Herod Antipas. The third belief is that she was born in Jerusalem, and this is considered to be the most likely idea of where she was born. Mary is considered to be of Davidic ancestry because of various references to the house of the family of David- ‘the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David’- Luke 1:26-27. St. Luke also states that St. Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem ‘to be enrolled because he was of the house o the family of David.’ How Mary’s devotion began exactly is unsure. It is possible that she was presented to the temple when she was three years old by her parents, and that she also might have vowed her virginity at this time. Along with this speculation is that after she was presented to the temple, she remained at the temple to be educated, and while there she had ‘ecstatic visions and daily visits of angels’. She remained at the temple until she was fourteen, and when the priest wanted to send her home to be married, he was reminded of her vow of virginity. The priest was told by the Lord to give Mary in marriage to the House of David. The other speculation about Mary’s childhood is that she lived in the same house as her parents, which was near the temple, and that she visited the holy buildings frequently. Jewish maidens were believed to be ready to wed at the age of twelve years and six months. The betrothal was made before the marriage, and the new bride would live away from the man she belonged to for approximately one year. Mary’s betrothal to Joseph would have been organized by the parents of Joseph, and Mary’s vow of virginity would be known and honoured throughout her Mary was living in Nazareth in the city of Galilee, when the Annunciation took place. After the annunciation, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant, and it was at this time that Jesus ‘lept into her womb’. There isn’t any historical evidence or document that gives the age that Mary was when she gave birth to Jesus. Although, it is assumed she was thirteen or fourteen while on route to Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had left Nazareth by order of Caesar Augustus, and with many strangers they traveled, but ‘did not have room in the caravansary’. Joseph and Mary found shelter in a grotto where animals rested, and it was here that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ during the night. The shepherds were informed that Jesus was born in the grotto, by angelic invitations and visited the site of the birth. Jesus’ name was given after eight days. The family moved to Nazareth were Joseph was a carpenter and Mary was a housekeeper. Jesus lived for eighteen years in poverty and worked. This figurine was made by a process of metal casting. Below will be mentioned the most known methods of casting, sand casting, investment casting, and die-casting. Different methodical variations can occur within these It is most likely a quick, industrial process, given he lack of detail on the figurine, and the generalized shape of the icon. The oldest form of casting is done with sand. Green sand contains three to eighteen percent clay and two to ten percent water’. Green sand can be reused, but it is proven to produce more fragile moulds. Sand can also be mixed with different additives like cement and coal dust, so that the texture of the sand has a different effect on the mould itself. Oil sands have linseed or another kind of oil, and historically they have contained sawdust, straw, or In sand casting the sand is packed into two wooden boxes, the boxes can also be metal. The boxes do not have a top or a bottom, but just sides. The sand is packed so much that it does not fall out when the open box is lifted. The sand is packed around what is known as a pattern. The pattern is the shape of the object that will be cast, and it is typically made with a material that is hard. After the sand is packed around the pattern—in-between the two boxes that are stacked on top of each other, the pattern is removed—this leaves an empty cavity on the bottom of one box, the ‘cope’ and on the top of the other box, the ‘drag’. When the boxes are put back together they are secured with pins. The molten metal is poured through a passage known as the ‘runner’, into the central cavity where it hardens. During this stage air escapes from the central cavity via tunnels known as ‘risers’. After hardening, the metal cast is broken out of the sand, and may need finishing touches, i.e. sanding, polishing, filing. Another ancient method of casting is known as investment casting or the lost wax process. Egyptians used this method to make gold jewellery approximately five-thousand year ago. The pattern is made from wax or from a material that can be easily melted away. The wax pattern can be developed with intricate detail, and with elaborate shapes. This method is still used today because this method allows for complex forms that cannot be made with a regular manufacturing technique. Once the pattern is made the wax is coated with refractory slurry—a material that can withstand high heats and that is fluid and hardens. The refractory slurry coats the whole pattern and dries. The refractory slurry is built up in layers until it is substantially thick. After this, the pattern is put into an oven and the wax melts. The mould cavity is empty and the molten metal can be poured in. The mould is one piece—unlike sand casting, in which the mould is made up of two halves. Aluminum alloys, bronzes, stainless steel, stellite, hastelloys, and precious metals can be used, and they typically do not need machining after coming out of the mould. This small figurine was most likely made with a more modern practice of casting. Sometimes resins are mixed into sand so that it makes a harder, firmer mould. Also, sands are made harder when they are injected with nitrogen or carbon dioxide gas. The metal freezes when it comes in contact with the nitrogen or carbon dioxide The method that is commonly used for high production is Die-casting; die-casting results have good surface finish, and consistent uniformity which means that post machining—the work done after the pattern is cast—is usually eliminated. . The moulds in this method are known as ‘dies’ and they are expensive. The moulds are not made from sand, but are made from hardened steel. Hard metals like iron and steel cannot be cast in the Die-casting method, but aluminum, zinc, and copper alloys are used. Die-casting involves two different processes: a cold chamber process and a hot chamber process. In cold chamber process is good for metal like aluminum and copper that needs to alloy with Iron at higher temperatures. Whereas the hot chamber is used for metals that have a low melting point like tin and zinc, and that do not alloy as easily with other metals at there melt temperatures. Large castings are harder to do in the die-cast method. It is easy for air to get trapped and for the molten metal to harden before it reaches the furthest extremities of the cast cavity. The pattern design must have a consistent thickness and not have heavy sections. Thick or heavy cavity spaces can cause cooling problems, and also gases can be more easily trapped which causes the cast object to be more porous. This happens even in die-casting, in which the molten metal is injected into the cavity at a high pressure. [Sources: Processes Home, efunda, Casting Farmer, Vivenne. Sand Cast, Victoria & Albert Museum. The Blessed Virgin Mary]
Description: A small, silver, metallic figure of a female wearing a cloak.