Ivory in Bruges

This exhibition in the St. John’s Hospital in Bruges contains a collection of valuable and delicate works of ivory art from the churches, monasteries , private collections and other museums. The artefacts on display are of exceptional quality. Many of them are religious in origin, but the collection also contains everyday items, such as buckles and an early hair slide. The sale of ivory was initially the monopoly of Arab traders, but gradually, due to the Ottonian quest for ivory and (Byzantine) imperial prestige, and growing demand, it also arrived on the European market. The ‘white gold’ was traded from African countries. Bruges was an international hub of trade and commerce from the thirtheen century onwards and ivory increasingly played a prominent role, although Paris was the centre for carving and sculpture in ivory.