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On view at the Museum: The Society Sector

Bread stamp

Modern Era, Europe

Bread stamps have been used in the Western world since the dawn of time. They score the bread (origin, manufacturer or quality) with small markings. They may represent a landscape, an animal, a characteristic object of a region or a culture, or just a geometric shape. In a religious context these stamps may also serve to sanctify bread – as is the case with this Greek bread stamp made of wood from the early 20th century. It is decorated with nine geometric motifs and ancient Greek letters. Each motif identifies the bread as an element of Orthodox communion. During this sacrificial ritual, the 'prosphora', as the bread is called, is torn into pieces and consecrated by a priest. The central segment is the most important as it represents the Body of Christ, indicated by the abbreviation 'IC X NI KA' for 'Jesus Christ the Saviour'. The other segments represent the Virgin Mary, the martyrs and the saints, as well as all living and dead beings who are mentioned in believers’ prayers.

Note: Cooking, Eating, Purchasing, Digesting, 2003. Vevey: Alimentarium, p. 28-29.


  • Type: Bread stamper
  • Place of origin: Greece
  • Materials and techniques: Carved wood
  • Date: 1902
  • Dimensions: 6 x 11.5 cm
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