Votive offering

A votive offering or votive deposit is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for religious purposes. Such items are a feature of modern and ancient societies and are generally made in order to gain favor with supernatural forces.

Votive paintings in the ambulatory of the Chapel of Grace, in Altötting, Bavaria, Germany
Mexican votive painting of 1911; the man survived an attack by a bull.
Part of a female face with inlaid eyes, Ancient Greek Votive offering, 4th century BC, probably by Praxias, set in a niche of a pillar in the sanctuary of Asclepios in Athens, Acropolis Museum, Athens
Bronze animal statuettes from Olympia, votive offerings, 8th–7th century BC.
Ancient greek votive relief. 400 BCE. Asclepios is sitting on an omphalos between his wife Epione and a man clad in himation. New Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece.

While some offerings were apparently made in anticipation of the achievement of a particular wish, in Western cultures from which documentary evidence survives it was more typical to wait until the wish has been fulfilled before making the offering,[citation needed] for which the more specific term ex-voto may be used. Other offerings were very likely regarded just as gifts to the deity, not linked to any particular need.

In Buddhism, votive offering such as construction of stupas was a prevalent practice in Ancient India, an example of which can be observed in the ruins of the ancient Vikramshila University[1] and other contemporary structures. Votive offerings have been described in historical Roman era and Greek sources, although similar acts continue into the present day, for example in traditional Catholic culture and, arguably, in the modern-day practice of tossing coins into a wishing well or fountain. The modern construction practice called topping out can be considered an example of a votive practice that has very ancient roots.

In archaeology, votive deposits differ from hoards in that although they may contain similar items, votive deposits were not intended for later recovery.