Northern/Eastern Europe, Baltic Vikings/Viking Rus, ca. 10th to 11th century CE. An impressive silver torc (torq/torque) made of a thick, twisted silver wire with a much thinner gold wire wrapped around it. The terminals of the torc are zoomorphic heads, with a wide silver band applied around their ends and stamped with decorative circles and triangles. The mouths of the terminals clasp silver rings that attach to a chain made of short wrapped sections of silver wire studded with interspersed, near-identical rock crystal beads, each spherical with deeply incised bands vertically down their bodies, lending them a scalloped appearance. Near the terminals are silver wires wrapped into ladder-like frames with two "rungs;" each of these frames has three rock crystal beads and three gold and silver wire beads strung onto it. Size: 18.25" L (46.4 cm)
This is a fascinating, rare form of ornament, probably made to be worn by an elite woman, that would have broadcast her wealth and prestige to anyone who saw her wearing it - and that she most likely took with her to the grave. 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. In fact, much of their silver was made from melting down coins from the Middle East!
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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