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Family Tree Christi, so-called "Adder Tree", Germany (probably Nuremberg), around 1500. Silver, partly gilded, shark teeth, 19.5 x 10.2 x 10.3 cm, 364 g. Green Vault, IV 108. © Dresden State Art Collections.

In the lush middle blossom of a little tree, Mary is enthroned with the baby Jesus in front of a large shark tooth. Between the strong foliage, six thin stalks of flowers protrude, at the ends of which sheathed shark teeth, so-called snappers, hang. At the foot of the tree, a man is asleep, while a dragon crawls out of his burrow on the back of the rocky pedestal. Remarkable in this very rare piece is the mix of Christian themes and miracle beliefs. Fossilized shark teeth were known as tongue tips of adders (dragons) until the 16th century, and were said to have healing powers as well as the ability to display poison. "Adder-tree trees" were therefore on lending near the dining table, to warn by sweating and change of color from poisoning in food or drink. The figural representation is only loosely related to this function. The sleeping old man (Jesse) as well as the tree itself, whose "blossom" Mary and the baby Jesus appear, follow the widespread image of the root Jesse in the Middle Ages. The tree symbolizes the family tree of Jesus, which is traced back to Jesse, the father of King David. On the rocky base was probably also the fight of St. Georg (lost) with the dragon to see. The belief in the protection and the healing power of adder tongues thus combines with Christian salvation and salvation concepts and gives the tree a religious dimension. Mary and the baby Jesus appear, following the widespread image of the root Jesse in the Middle Ages. The tree symbolizes the family tree of Jesus, which is traced back to Jesse, the father of King David. On the rocky base was probably also the fight of St. Georg (lost) with the dragon to see. The belief in the protection and the healing power of adder tongues thus combines with Christian salvation and salvation concepts and gives the tree a religious dimension. Mary and the baby Jesus appear, following the widespread image of the root Jesse in the Middle Ages. The tree symbolizes the family tree of Jesus, which is traced back to Jesse, the father of King David. On the rocky base was probably also the fight of St. Georg (lost) with the dragon to see. The belief in the protection and the healing power of adder tongues thus combines with Christian salvation and salvation concepts and gives the tree a religious dimension.