Northern Europe, Viking, ca. 9th to 11th century CE. A breathtakingly beautiful high karat (24 kt) gold pendant of a circular, discoid form, akin to a bracteate, with a lovely symmetrical design created via arches and pyramidal forms surrounding a central circular motif - all made of granules and surrounded by a border of granules, with an integral suspension loop. Bracteates were traditionally worn upon the chest and understood to be magical amulets. They were modeled on Roman medallions and sometimes were employed to confirm political alliances. Favorite iconography included horse-like creatures, figures most likely representing Odin, and apotropaic runes. Weight: 3.9 grams Size: 1.125" L x .875" W (2.9 cm x 2.2 cm)
Filigree and granulation are among the oldest goldsmithing techniques. The techniques involved include twisting silver or in this case gold wires and soldering incredibly tiny beads comprised of the same precious metal onto the surface of the piece of jewelry. This very complicated technique requires painstaking attention to detail that relatively few jewelers have ever mastered. Ancient civilizations such as the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Etruscans developed the methodology; filigreed and granulated jewelry continued to be popular in the Roman empire, and was also sought after by the Slavs, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings, remaining popular throughout the Middle Ages. In fact, modern jewelers still utilize these ancient goldsmithing techniques.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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