Brooch with chains and pendants

Brooch with chains and pendants

Item description

  • Brooch with chains and pendants
  • Gold
  • Kuban area, second half of the 2nd century BC
  • H (overall with pendants): 12.5 cm; Diam: 4.3 сm; Weight: 40 gr.
  • Provenance: English private collection

The disc brooch is set with hemispherical bosses richly decorated with granulation and filigree; it was fastened by means of a vertical pin on the reverse. A row of chains and pendants are suspended from rings along its lower edge. The disc was cut from a gold sheet; its upper surface is divided into two ornamental zones by a ring of plain wire. A hemisphere, completely covered in fine granulation, is soldered to the centre within triangles of granulation which run around the circumference of the central zone. The outer zone is decorated with six smaller hemispheres, decorated with granulation or filigree rings around granules. These alternate with pairs of S-shaped filigree wires, three of which are enclosed by circles. A beaded wire surrounds the edge of the disc; the reverse is undecorated. Along the lower edge of the disc chains of loop-in-loop wire are linked to evenly spaced rings of plain wire. At the end of these, hanging from rings, are intermediary heart-shaped plates; these are bordered by S-shaped filigree wire with granules soldered within their coils. Two further chains are suspended from these plates (16 in total), each of which ends with a thin sheet-gold disc.

This brooch, with disc-pendants hanging from chains and a vertical pin on the reverse, belongs is a rare find, known exclusively from Sarmatian burials of the Kuban area of the second half of the 2nd century BC. The closest proximity show the finds from the burial from Kurganinsk and grave no. 177 of the necropolis near stanitsa Tenginskaya, with the shields, to the lower edge of which there are soldered four and six loops, respectively, for the chains with disc-pendants. These too were decorated with inlays in circular, oval or tear-shaped settings, and were richly decorated with filigree, granulation and enamel. These decorative features are characteristic of other categories of jewellery: brooches with double pins, earrings, temple pendants; and also gold mounts of glass vessels, such as the finds from the barrow near Severskaya, which were wide-spread in this territory in the second half of the 2nd to 1st century BC. All these kinds of ornaments were apparently manufactured in the local Kuban workshops.

This rare brooch with its rich variety of filigree and granulation survives in an excellent state of preservation, making it one of the finest known examples of the Kuban style in jewellery.

On the brooches and brooches of the 2nd – 1st centuries BC from the Kuban area, see Treister 2002, 29-72. – On the 2nd – 1st century BC gold, silver plate and jewellery from the Kuban area, see Мордвинцева и Трейстер 2007. – The brooch from Kurganinsk, see Raev, Simonenko and Treister 1991, 481 f., fig. 17, 7; from Tenginskaya, see Мордвинцева и Трейстер 2007, no. A270.4, pl. 41. – On the gold mounts of glass skyphoi from Severskaya, see Смирнов 1953, 9-11, no. 1-2, 22-24, pls. I-IV; Анфимов 1987, 192-193; Кат. Москва 2002, no. 495; Мордвинцева и Трейстер 2007, no. B38.1-2, pl. 57.

Technical Comments:

The multi-part assembly used to construct this object is typical for this period – and shows many similarities with mainstream Hellenistic Greek goldwork in its granules, wires and chains. However, there are some subtle ways in which the craftsman has sought to add strength to potentially vulnerable joint areas which are different to those usually seen in Hellenistic work and this might well suggest that he was not Greek or trained in the Greek tradition.