Pair of "a bauletto" type earrings

CULTURE:
Etruscan
DATE:
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.

The cylinder of each earring in this pair is closed on one of its sides with à jour, or openwork, decoration of granulated triangles along the outer edge. The cylinder is crowned by a tree and floral scrolls made of wire and gold globules, flnaked by the tiny reliefs of two heraldic lions. The front is decorated with hollow bosses and nearly square rosettes rendered in repoussé, their stamens and outlines covered with granulation. Additional multipetaled rosetttes have either a large granulated globule or a coiled-wire circlet topped with a granule in the center. Embossed vertical lines decorate the back. The suspension hook its hinge, and silver pin, are still extant.

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; 124.

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.