Northern Europe, Viking / Norse / Viking Rus, ca. 8th to 11th century CE. A group of silver belt fittings from a leather belt. There are: forty-one heart-shaped, hollow fittings, each studded with three pins on its undecorated back for attachment, and with its face incised to divide the shape into three, gilt filling the wide incised lines; three round, disc-like bosses with smooth faces; two ovoid fittings with deep gilded convex circles in their centers; two silver discs with gilded borders that look like twisted ropework; and finally, a large central piece with a raised, nose-like projection in its center and gilt around the edges of the nose. Size of largest: 2.5" L x 1.75" W (6.4 cm x 4.4 cm); 133.3 grams total
The Vikings - groups of people who left Scandinavia to plunder and colonize northern Europe (and who travelled as far afield as northeastern North America and the great kingdoms of the Middle East) - had a distinctive artistic tradition, although many of the metals that they had were acquired through conquest and the silver for this belt likely was melted down from other silver objects, perhaps some acquired by looting a monastery or trading in the Mediterranean. A belt like this one could have been used by either men or women, both of whom wore heavy layers of wool clothing that closed using brooches and belted at the waist. The use of silver and gilt suggests this would have belonged to a wealthy individual.
Provenance: private New York, USA collection
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