Gold fibula of "sanguisuga" type

CULTURE:
Etruscan
DATE:
mid 7th century BCE
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General Description

One of the most popular types of Etruscan jewelry is the fibula, a garment fastener consisting of a straight pin coiled to form a spring at one end, a catchplate that secures the pin at the other end, and a decorative element that holds pin and catchplate together. This fibula of pale gold combines a hollow, arched bow (to which the type owes its two Italian names: sanguisuga or leech-shaped, and navicella, or boat-shaped) with a long, narrow catchplate, ending in a curved extension, and a pin looped twice into a spiral for tension. The seam under the hollow bow is partly open. Small solid-gold rings, one around each end of the bow, join it to the pin on one side and to the catchplate on the other.

The surface of the bow is completely covered with double lines of granulation arranged in elaborate patterns of meanders, heart-like ornaments, bows, and zigzags. The front of the narrow, boxlike catchplate, which is open at the back, features a granulated meander. The top has a zigzag pattern interspersed with single granules, and the bottom is decorated with chevrons. All of these designs are executed in granulated double lines. Fine granulated lines on the curved, separately made extension at the end of the catchplate create a stylized lion's head, with eyes, ears, and mane carefully indicated.

Excerpt 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), 34, 121-22.

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.