Peristerium copper and enamel figure of a dove, estimate SFr120,000-180,000 at Koller.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

It was created in Limoges in the first third of the 13th century and used for liturgical purposes.

A peristerium, as such vessels are officially known, was a container for the consecrated hosts used in communion. The symbol of the dove is elemental to Christianity, being part of the Holy Trinity and the symbol of the Holy Ghost.

The 10in (25cm) long figure in the Zürich sale is closely related to a figure in the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Both birds have unusual features that set them apart from the majority of other eucharistic doves: they have no feet, the legs are attached directly to the flat base; the wings can be folded out, but unlike other models they are not part of the cover of the cavity for the hosts.

The coloured enamel inlays on the wings, symbolising feathers, are almost identical, leading the auction house to assume that this bird was created in the same Limoges workshop as the example in Paris.

Little is known of its provenance, other than that is comes from a Swiss private collection. It is expected to bring SFr120,000-180,000.