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The Tring Tiles: Infant Jesus killing and reviving his playmates

August 18, 2010

Tring Tiles, British Museum

Pictured above is one of the Tring tiles displayed at the British Museum. Their origin is a bit of a mystery and their subject is unique. They are illustrated stories of Jesus as a child.

In the tile above, a boy jumps on Infant Jesus’ shoulder. Angered, Infant Jesus kills him. The parents, pictured on the right-hand side of the tile, come and complain to Joseph, Jesus’ father. Jesus revives the boy, who walks off to the right.

There are other tiles depicting: Jesus at school, getting slapped by the teacher for his insolence, Men hiding their children in an oven so that Jesus doesn’t find them and so on..

Many of these stories are taken from Apocryphal Gospels of the life of the Infant Christ. But these are one of the few illustrations of those gospels ever found.

These are also the only known examples of sgraffito tiles ever found in England. Tiles like these have only ever been found in France and it is a mystery how they ended up at Tring. Their fantastic condition also makes them look unusually modern.

Where is it?
These are in the southwest corner of Room 40, the Medieval Europe room.
Entering the room from the stairs, go immediately to your right and into the corner. They are displayed on the wall.

Further Reading
The Mystery of the Tring Tiles by Wendy Austin
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Wikipedia
The Fourteenth-Century Tring Tiles: A Fresh Look at Their Origin and the
Hebraic Aspects of the Child Jesus’ Actions
(PDF) By Mary F. Casey

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