Northern Europe, Viking or Norse culture, ca. 800 to 1000 CE. A gorgeous and wearable silver bracelet with a highly detailed cast design of triangles, diamonds, and dots that make the viewer think of snowy mountains or steep, icy waves. The two terminals taper to narrow conical points and overlap one another to create a closed-looped rather than open-ended band. Be sure to look closely to see just how precise and small the decorative form is! Size: 0.25" L x 3" W (0.6 cm x 7.6 cm).
A piece such as this would have been made in a specialized workshop centered around a hearth. The important Viking metalworking shops correspond to their great trading ports and proto-urban centers - Birka, Helgo, Sigtuna, and Lund in Sweden, Ribe, Haithabu (Hedeby), and Fyrkat in Denmark, and Kaupang and Trondheim in Norway. Silver was the principal currency of the Viking world, which stretched from Russia to northern Canada at the height of their influence. In many places, the Vikings kept silver not as coins, but as jewelry, a wearable currency form that was not subject to the authority of a monarch or mint. One of the most common archaeological finds from the Viking period is a hoard of metal objects, often buried in the earth or deposited in bodies of water, like river beds. These are found in great quantities throughout the British Isles and the Nordic countries. What was the meaning of such hoards? Were they treasures buried for safe keeping, perhaps by people fleeing violence who did not wish to travel with heavy loads and who died or forgot before they could retrieve them? Or does their presence in rivers suggest votive deposits, gifts and offerings to spirits who lived in the water?
Provenance: ex-private New York, New York, USA collection
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