Three tender scenes of the baby Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph fill the rectangular area of this French Gothic ivory. Above them, the squiggly line separates the gable and shows that the prayerful angel is in Heaven. The hinges on each side of the ivory reveal that it was one shutter—of probably four—of a tabernacle sheltering a central image of the Virgin and Child, whom the angel would have faced. Such tabernacles were used to stir memory, emotion, and hope in the course of private prayer. The ivory used—a fragment of an elephant's tusk—reached its destination through extensive trade networks spanning the Mediterranean and Sahara. source
This image is in the public domain.