Gold pendant (kolt)


British Museum

British Museum

This type of pendant formed part of the regalia that would have been worn at official ceremonies. The ceremonies would have taken place at the court of the Grand Princes of medieval Kiev, then the capital of the Christian state of Rus'. The pendants would have been manufactured in specialist jewellers' workshops attached to the court, the remains of which have been found in excavations of the site. This piece is one of the earliest of its type.

This gold temporal pendant, or kolt, was probably worn in the region of the temples as one of two pendants suspended from a crown or headdress. The pendant is decorated in polychrome cloisonné enamel on both faces. On one side of the pendant two birds are shown, probably doves symbolizing the Holy Spirit. On the other side is a quatrefoil between two horn-like motifs that may derive from representations of wings or the crescent moon. The loops round the edge would have supported a string of pearls, now missing. The pendant is hollow, to contain aromatic substances or herbs.

The cloisonné technique is Byzantine in origin, and the decoration reflects mainly Christian and oriental influences. But the doves may also owe something to native tradition: birds were popular in early Slav art, occurring on the much earlier brooches of the Martinivka hoard and on a contemporary bracelet from a Kiev hoard.

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  • Title: Gold pendant (kolt)
  • Date Created: 1100/1150
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 41.00mm; Width: 35.00mm; Depth: 9.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cloisonn
  • Subject: heraldry; bird; animal
  • Registration number: 1881,0802.3
  • Production place: Made in Ukraine
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Desyatynna Church
  • Period/culture: Slav
  • Material: gold; enamel
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Burges, William