Lot 939: Gothic Large Crystal Loop Buckle with Garnets
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 5th century AD. A gilt-bronze rectangular buckle plate with straps and rear riveted panel, vertical ribbing to the edges, complex inlaid pattern of cloison garnets, three with stepped edges; tongue with forward edge curved over the loop, discoid shield with raised cell and inset kidney-shaped garnet cloison; substantial carved rock crystal loop. See Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period. Europe Without Borders, Berlin, 2007, for similar examples, e.g. I.12.1, I.13.1, I.15.4. 163 grams, 86mm overall (3 1/2"). Property of a gentleman; acquired in the late 1960s-early 1970s. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. A small number of belt buckles made from rock crystal have been found and mostly related to the Ostrogoths, the Eastern branch of the Gothic confederacy of tribes; the Western branch being the Visigoths who would go on to settle Southern France, Spain and North Africa. The Ostrogoths traced their origins to the Greutungi a branch of the Goths who had migrated southward from the Baltic Sea and established a kingdom north of the Black Sea, during the third and fourth centuries, and their name would appear to mean 'glorified by the rising sun'. The relative scarcity of rock crystal buckles would indicate that they were reserved for the elite and that they were only used for special occasions, such as religious ceremonies, diplomatic meetings, and other court ceremonial; the fragile nature of the stone would make them unpractical to wear on a daily basis, particularly in warfare. Rock crystal had been regarded as having special qualitoes sonce the Neolithic when pebbles of the crystal had been placed in graves. It would go on to be revered by the Romans and manufactured into luxury items, and it is possibly this influence, along with a native held belief in the magical power of the stone, that led to it being used for the aristocracy.
Condition Report: Very fine condition. Rare.