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.

Both sides of the cylinder of this pair are left undecorated. The semicircular extension above the cylinder opening features the tiny relief of a crouching sphinx with its head facing forward. The relief is surrounded by a broad border of granulated bosses. The main decoration on the front of the cylinder is a large square rosette rendered in repoussé, with lines of granulation outlining the petals and a large granulated stamen in the center. The large rosette is surrounded by square compartments filled alternately by quatrefoil rosettes with large granulated stamens and by rosettes composed of multiple petals, separately made from sheet gold, around a coiled-wire circlet supporting a shallow cup and a granule. The back of each cylinder is decorated with vertical repoussé lines. The suspension hook is missing; fragments of the silver hinge pins are still in place.

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.