Lot 930: Hunnish Gold Fly Brooch with Garnets
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 4th-5th century AD. A plate brooch with hollow-formed D-section head and neck, triangular wings; beaded wire and granule detailing, four discoid and four piriform cabochon garnets in beaded wire cells; pin-lug and catch to the reverse. 9.66 grams, 39mm (1 1/2"). From an old German collection; acquired in Munich in the 1970s. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. This type of brooch was popular among the Hunnic tribes who may have borrowed the design from late Roman types as they came into contact with the Empire as they settled in the province of Pannonia. With the arrival of new populations due to migration from the east a new material culture developed that is described as the Danubian or Ponto-Danubian style, as many of its features appear in the Pontic region as well. Brooches in the shapes of a fly or cicada are characteristic object types of this period. Although often linked to the Huns, they were worn by women of eastern Germanic descent. Fly and cicada brooches remained popular in the post-Hunnic period with examples being known from Ostrogothic Italy. Although the exact meaning of the cicada/fly brooches is not known to us it is possible that it retained its ancient symbolism of rebirth or regeneration of the soul.
Condition Report: Extremely fine condition, pin absent.