Northern Europe, specifically Gotland, Sweden, Viking world, ca. 1000 to 1100 CE. A richly gilded silver animal-head brooch with an integral backplate. The body of the brooch is formed as a hollow-cast case with upstanding ears and a slightly raised end to the muzzle that follows a narrow raised band separating the face into two panels. Both those and the upper panel (between the "ears") are decorated with interlaced ornament in low relief. These depict serpents locked in combat with each other, their bodies dramatically entwined. On the upper panel are what look like four disembodied anthropomorphic lower arms and hands, pointing away from each other around a central diamond-shaped motif. The raised snout and band are decorated with stepped motifs, while the ears have scrollwork. The backplate has a rectangular slot and, attached to that by a pin, a hinged pin with an integral catch-plate. Size: 1.8" W x 2.55" H (4.6 cm x 6.5 cm); 140.5 grams
Box-shaped (sometimes "tortoise-shaped") and hollow animal-head shaped brooches were created on the island of Gotland, Sweden, although they occasionally have been found in other parts of the Viking world. They were made to be worn in pairs on the chest of women's cloaks with chains suspended between them, and are found in women's burials. The disembodied hands on the upper panel of the brooch help us understand the Viking concept of human bodies, which seems to have included the ability to escape full corporeality and transform into constituent parts with individual power. This example would have been a treasured item, denoting the wealth and status of the woman who wore it.
The Swedish History Museum exhibits several of these (see, for example: http://mis.historiska.se/mis/sok/fid.asp?fid=450014&g=1).
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide to most countries and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.