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Communion flagon

Silver gilt communion flagon with riveted ornaments, dated 1766. This flagon has elaborate Baroque ornamentation and depicts scenes from the story of Hagar and Ishmael.

The flagon is cylindrical, with handle, thumb-piece and lid of silver gilt. The handle is shaped like a mermaid. The body and lid of the flagon have riveted silver gilt ornamentation. The flagon, its foot and lid are richly decorated with acanthus ornamentation, also riveted. This ornamentation depicts scenes from the story of Hagar and Ishmael. The lid is decorated with angels’ heads and, at the very top, a lamb holding a banner of victory. This flagon was made in 1766 but was reworked by the Västerås goldsmith Jonas Elg in 1786. The inscription shows it to have been purchased during the incumbency of J. L. Weidman, through benefactions by Lars Ersson, Äsplunda, and Eric Ersson, Backa.

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The story of Hagar and Ishmael, depicted on this flagon, is an unusual topic for communion flagons. Hagar was the handmaid of Abraham’s wife Sarah. Sarah, being barren, gave Hagar to Abraham as his wife, and they had a son, Ishmael. A few years later, however, Sarah, now aged 90, gave birth to a son of her own, Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael were expelled, because Sarah did not want Ishmael to be co-heir with her son Isaac. Jewish and Islamic tradition has it that Ishmael was the founder of the Arab nation.