Sunday 10 September 2023

Prayer nuts

The walnuts are just starting to ripen sufficiently to start harvesting them. We had such a large harvest last year that we are still working through them on a  daily basis. This year's harvest, as expected, appears to be much smaller. 

Looking at the walnuts reminded me of a recent encounter with prayer nuts. Earlier in the Summer we managed to organise cover at the smallholding to spend a few days away visiting our youngest daughter who lives in the Netherlands. We visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which is their main art gallery with exhibits across the ages. This includes many familiar Vermeer's which generates much interest. There is a separate Van Gogh Museum nearby so not many of his works to view at the Rijksmuseum itself. 

One exhibit that caught my eye was examples of prayer nuts. These are tiny boxwood, hinged balls little larger than a walnut. Inside there is the most intricate of carvings. The one in the photograph is of Nativity scenes and it is mounted in a silver casing. It was carved in the Netherlands in the early 1500's. It would have hung from a belt (or perhaps a Rosary) and used as an aid to prayer.


  1. How utterly beautiful! Thank you for this post. We went to Amsterdam about 20yrs ago & visited the Van Gogh Museum (which had an amazing Rembrandt/Caravaggio exhibition) I should love to go back and do the Rijksmuseum sometime.

    1. Lots to see in Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum is near the top of the list (Thank you - spelling corrected Ang!)