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Lot 1031: Pre-Viking 'Freyr and Freyja' Erotic Mount

Antiquities: Day 2

by TimeLine Auctions

December 7, 2016

Harwich, United Kingdom

Live Auction
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Description: 3rd-5th century AD. A bronze mount of a standing male and a female couple, each with one hand extending across the body touching each other's genitals. For the gesture and design see Oldtidens Ansigt, Det kongelige Nordiske Oldskiftselska og Jysk Arkaeologist Selskab, 1990, p.134, 138. 3.34 grams, 32mm (1 1/4"). Property of a London businessman, from his grandfather's collection formed after World War II; thence by descent 1972. A parallel to the style and pose of this 'couple' can be seen on several small bronzes inspired by Roman statuettes representing gods. However, similar bronze statues were already known in Scandinavia since the Bronze Age and were most likely of a ritual significance. The specific crossed hand on a chest is a puzzling symbol, possibly symbolising a gesture of a specific god, ritual act or blessing. Another similarity can be observed on rock art in Scandinavia, especially the image of a 'divine couple', a strong motif known from the late Iron Age depicted on many golden sheets called guldgubbers. Several scholars argue that this image represents the marriage of god Frey and giantess Gerd; however, it may also represent a union of Frey with his sister Freyja. From later sources, it is known that the Vanir, an ancient race of gods, had a custom to marry or have intercourse with their siblings. Njord, the father of Frey and Freya, was from this tribe, and sources suggest that they were conceived with his sister-wife. She might have been the mysterious Suebi goddess Nerthus, which Roman historian Tacitus wrote about in Germania. Her statue was kept in a sacred grove on an unknown island, drawn in a holy cart and only priests could touch her. Everywhere the goddess came she was met with celebration of peace and hospitality. After she returned to the temple, everything was washed by slaves, who were drowned short after. Her connection with fertility, peace, and water, definitely points to the Vanir race; and she shares several similarities with the later worshipping of Frey. This mount probably represents either Njord and Nerthus, or Frey and Freya, and may had been used as a votive offering or worn as an amulet to invoke the fertile powers of those gods. [No Reserve]

Condition Report: Very fine condition. Very rare.

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