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Open Access

Bird-Shaped Brooch

Artist: Unknown Frankish Primary
Date: 500-600
6th century
Dimensions: 1.25 x 0.56 x 0.31 in. (3.18 x 1.43 x 0.79 cm)
Object Type: Jewelry
Medium and Support: Silver-gilt on iron
Credit Line: Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan (17.191.166)
Accession Number: L2013.13.03
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

Elite women in the medieval Germanic tribes typically wore pairs of small bird-shaped brooches on their cloaks and garments. These brooches served as symbols of status and wealth. Brooches constructed in this shape and set with garnets, in what is called the cloisonné inlay technique, originated in South Russia. They were fashionable in continental Europe and England for over one hundred years, from the mid-fifth century through the sixth century. This example was worn by a Frankish (also known Merovingian) woman. The bird would have been worn horizontally, as it is displayed here.




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