Micro carving

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Micro-carving or miniature carving is a collective term for particularly fine, small-format carvings in selected hardwoods or fruit kernels (botanically correct stone , see stone fruit ).


Even in ancient Greek literature there are reports of virtuoso artists who could have carved a team of four no bigger than a fly's wing, a ship smaller than a bee, or who could have written a Homer verse on a sesame seed.

Carving in a betnut, Flanders (?), 16th century. New York, The Cloisters

Micro-carvings from the Middle Ages and early modern times often show more complex scenes, such as the so-called betnuts , which were designed as hinged boxwood balls filled with reliefs in Flanders and served as rosary pendants , especially in the first half of the 16th century . Other works were in the form of tiny house altars.

In the chambers of art and curiosities of European princes and wealthy citizens, micro-carvings in fruit pits were almost an obligatory part of the inventory. Among other things, the following are preserved:

A number of relevant stage names have been collected from Philippovich (see literature).


  • Eugen von Philippovich : Curiosities - Antiques. A handbook for collectors and enthusiasts (= library for friends of art and antiques , Volume 46), Klinkhardt and Biermann, Braunschweig 1966, pp. 326–331, DNB 457803428 .