Lot 929: Thuringian Gold Bird-Heads Pendant with Garnets
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Early 7th-8th century AD. A gold pendant with ribbed loop and granules, plaque formed as a pair of opposed bird-heads executed in garnet cloisonné, cabochons to the eyes and beaks. Cf. Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period. Europe Without Borders, Berlin, 2007, item V.3.4.2. 8.78 grams, 29mm (1 1/4"). Property of a South London gentleman; acquired in the late 1980s; formerly in a North country collection. The Thuringii or Toringi were a Germanic tribe that appeared late during the Migration Period in the Harz Mountains of central Germania, in a region that still bears their name to this day, Thuringia. It became a kingdom, which came into conflict with the Merovingian Franks, and it later came under their influence and Frankish control. The Thuringii established an empire in the late 5th century and which reached its territorial peak in the first half of the 6th century before it was conquered by the Franks in 531532 AD. Examination of Thuringian grave sites reveal cranial features which suggest the strong presence of Hunnic women or slaves, perhaps indicating that many Thuringians took Hunnic wives or Hunnic slaves following the collapse of the Hunnic Empire. There is also evidence from jewellery found in graves that the Thuringians sought marriages with Ostrogothic and Lombard women. Pieces such as this are typical of jewellery worn by elite women and the symbolism of the bird heads is possibly related to the Germanic deity Wotan. The use of cabochons in conjunction with cloison is unusual for this period.
Condition Report: Very fine condition; restored. Very rare.