Infancy Gospel of Thomas

The Tring Tiles, 1330 CE, Earthenware tile; red clay slip-decorated with incised 'sgraffito' designs, lead-glazed. British Museum, London.

This tile is one in a set of eight tiles which show scenes from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. The Infancy Gospel stories were very popular in the fourteenth century. The design and execution of these tiles is remarkably skillful. Many have a split design showing the passage of time; on this tile the left side shows a boy dead because he bumped into Jesus and on the right Jesus has brought him back to life. The device of showing the dead person upside down is unusual. All of the scenes are depicted with a sense of humor and an economy of line remains approachable to this day and is reminiscent of modern graphic novel styles.

The tiles are not worn and it is suggested that they may have been made to be placed on a wall. Ten complete tiles and a few fragments are known. They are lead-glazed earthenware tiles worked in sgraffito where a top layer of color is scratched through to a darker color below to make the lines.


A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

An apocryphal gospel made up of sayings attributed to Jesus Christ and considered to be Gnostic in viewpoint.

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