Polychrome Style During the Great Migration Period

During the Great Migration period, the jewelry style with vibrant polychromy spreads in Europe. This happened under the impetus of the Huns.

Diadem (300 - 500 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine


These ornaments are decorated with red stones, primarily garnets and carnelians, and occasionally amber. The combination of these stones with a golden base created an impression of extraordinary splendor.

Polychrome items are typically divided into two groups.

Pendant (475 - 525 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

The first group is characterized by ornamentation with the stone cabochons inserted into separate soldered plate-like sockets. Rows of inserts are complemented with triangle patterns of tiny gold granules, filigree and stamped braids and hems.

Pad on the bridle belt (300 - 500 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

The foundation of this style can be traced back to the Hellenistic period.   Eastern influences and established connections with sources of precious stones caused a trend of embellishing products with numerous gemstones and filigree ornaments.

The second group of polychrome-style items is characterized by cloisonné inlay. The surface of the products was divided into sockets of different shapes using soldered plate-like partitions. 

Buckles (450 - 525 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

Flat inserts of stones or colored glass were then placed into these sockets. As a result, the inserts became a whole background with the partition edges forming a pattern on the surface.

Belt set. General photo (500 - 700 CE) by UnknownNational Museum of the History of Ukraine

This type of ornamentation was not typical of Greco-Roman art in the preceding period. Cloisonné inlay was primarily widespread in the East, in Asian countries. In the North Black Sea region and further into Europe this new phenomenon appeared specifically during the Hunnic era.

The Bosphorus became the center for the production of such items, and the jewelers executed orders for the barbarian nobility there. Later the techniques of the polychrome style were developed in the art of the Merovingian era.
The museum's collection presents items from both groups of the polychrome style.

Credits: Story

Research and text: Natalia Maliuk
Project Сurator: Nataliia Panchenko
Technical implementation: Oleg Mitiukhin, Oksana Mitiukhina, Liudmila Klymuk
Text editor:  Nataliia Panchenko
Translation: Dmytro Mitiukhin
Selection of exhibits:  Natalia Maliuk
Photographer: Dmytro Klochko

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Ukraine is Here
Preserving and celebrating Ukrainian arts and culture
View theme
Google apps