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Lot 1026: Viking Bear-Heads Lozenge Brooch
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 10th-11th century AD. A bronze lozengiform plate brooch with four round voids, Borre Style detailing, bear-head finials; pin-lug and catchplate to the reverse. See Kershaw, J. Viking Identities: Scandinavian Jewellery in England, Oxford, 2013, p.43-49. 7.69 grams, 32mm (1 1/4"). Property of a Dutch collector; acquired from Dirk Kennis - Works of Art, Antwerp, Belgium, in 2009; acquired from the UK under export licence number PAU/0054/09; found Essex. Accompanied by a copy of the certificate of authenticity from Dirk Kennis. The bear was especially associated with the class of Viking warriors known as Beserkers. The shamanism of the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples took several different forms. Among the most common of these forms, especially for men, was the attainment and use of an ecstatic battle-fury closely linked to a particular totem animal, usually a bear or a wolf, and often occurring within the context of certain formal, initiatory military groups. The Old Norse word Beserkir means 'bear-shirt' and refers to the practice of dressing in a ritual costume made from the hide of the totem animal, an outward reminder of the wearers having gone beyond the confines of his humanity and become a divine predator. On the battlefield the Beserker would go into a trance and take on the rage of the animal and would often enter the fray naked but for his animal mask and pelts.
Condition Report: Fine condition.