Pair of "a bauletto" type earrings

6th–early 5th century BCE
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General Description

A baule or a bauletto means "little bag," and this Etruscan earring type earned its Italian name from its resemblance to a valise. An Etruscan design of the 6th century BCE, the basic form consists of a broad strip of gold bent into three-quarters of a cylinder. The two ends of the strip are joined by a wire or narrow band, which attached the cylinder to the ear. This wire is usually masked from the front by a decorative extension. The surfaces of the cylinder that were visible when the earring was worn are elaborately decorated. The hidden side is usually left plain or is less carefully decorated. These differences make it clear whether an earring was meant to be worn on the right ear or the left.

In contrast to another pair of a bauletto earrings in the Dallas Museum of Art's collection (1991.75.13.a-b), both sides of this pair are left undecorated. Extending in front of the cylinder's open area is a composite relief combining what is probably a lion mask and two crouching lions. Applied to the cylinder is a large flower with two overlapping layers of filigree petals and a cup-shaped center. In the four corners of the frontal field are circular frames composed of twisted and plain gold wires, each frame containing a tiny lion's head in relief. Quatrefoil rosettes with additional globules and granules fill the interstices. The back of the cylinder is decorated with vertical lines and delicate floral ornaments made of beaded wire. On both pieces the suspension hook and the silver hinge pin are missing.

Adapted from

Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 35; 123.

Fun Facts

  • Jewelry was far more than merely ornament to the Etruscans; it was often close to being a magic charm or amulet and implied the protection of the gods.