Northern Europe, Viking / Norse culture, ca. 9th to 10th century CE. A stunning 18K gold ring with the table representing coiled serpentine forms, the snake skin decorated with circular scale motifs. The serpent form probably relates to the Norse myth of Jörmungandr (Jormungand), the Midgard Serpent, a child of Loki and a giantess who according to legend grew so large that it was able to surround the earth and grasp its own tail, forming an ouroboros. US ring size 7. Size: .875" in diameter (2.2 cm); snake motif measures 1.25" L x .5" W (3.2 cm x 1.3 cm); Weight: 4.4 grams
According to legend, when the Midgard Serpent releases its tail, Ragnarök - the final battle of the gods that will result in Earth becoming completely covered in water - will begin. One of the most popular motifs in Norse art concerns the story of Thor and Jörmungandr. In classic Thor style, he sets off on a reckless fishing expedition, taking the head of an ox as his bait, and sails further out to sea than he should. With a large hook and the ox head, he catches Jörmungandr, who surfaces, poison and blood dripping from his mouth. Thor's terrified fishing companion, the giant Hymir, quickly cuts Thor's line before he can slay the serpent with his hammer and Jörmungandr sinks beneath the waves, the threat at bay - for the moment. Multiple Viking picture stones have been found depicting this story, including one from as early as the late 8th century.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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