Gold and enamel earrings


British Museum

British Museum

The crescent-shaped arcs of this pair of earrings have enamel panels filled with delightful small birds holding twigs in their beaks. Although the enamel has lost much of its colour, the background was evidently originally translucent green, and the birds had opaque white heads and necks, translucent blue bodies and opaque blue wings. The design of the enamel panels is slightly different on the back. Enamel discs above the crescents display similar individual birds and have rosettes on the opposite sides. The lower edge of each crescent bears triangles of granules alternating with pearls on wires. A ring of tiny pearls strung on wire would have originally surrounded the discs. The hoop wires are soldered at one end into gold balls at either end of the crescent with the other end free-moving so they can be slipped through the ear.At one time these earrings were thought to date from the sixth or seventh century, but recent investigations have shown that this earring type belongs to the late ninth and first half of the tenth centuries. Similar earrings formed part of a treasure of gold jewellery from Great Preslav, Bulgaria which included coins from the middle of the tenth century.

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  • Title: Gold and enamel earrings
  • Date Created: 900/1099
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 47.00mm; Width: 38.00mm; Depth: 7.00mm; Length: 45.00mm; Width: 37.00mm; Depth: 7.00mm; Weight: 14.00g (each earring weighs the same)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cloisonn
  • Subject: bird; flower; tree/bush
  • Registration number: AF.338
  • Period/culture: Middle Byzantine
  • Material: gold; enamel; pearl
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Franks, Augustus Wollaston


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