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Lot 32, Auction 7/20/2017: Finno-Ugric Bronze Bird Foot Pendant

Northeastern Europe, Finland or Russia, Finno-Ugric people, Iron Age, ca. 7th to 10th centuries CE. A beautiful, unique, rectangular flat pendant with five open loops and five dangling bird's feet (thought by some to be crows) on short chains hanging from them. The pendant is undecorated on one side, with vertical loops for suspension on its edges. The other side is cast with a light texture that gives the appearance of having been pressed with woven fibres. There is a high level of detail throughout, including the webbing on the feet. We believe these items were hung from hunting belts and later buried with their owners. Birds seem to have been very significant in this culture, with their heads often serving as protective features on human figures and their dangling feet often depicted on rustling, jangling artifacts like this one. Size: 1.6" W x 2.6" H (4.1 cm x 6.6 cm)

Items from this culture are rare outside of the Russian world, and nearly all of the information published about them is in Russian. They often include stylized human figures and animal iconography, with a heavy emphasis in depiction placed on certain parts of the body, like eyes, hands, and feet. The relationship between this kind of artistic expression and that of the Perm Animal Style (also Permian Animal Style) is not currently known, but they were contemporaneous and geographically close, and have many of the same elements. These artists also seem to have been inspired by the Scytho-Siberians who came before them, and the Vikings who they would have have had contact with in the west.

Condition: Nice light patina over surface. Two possible small, ancient losses to center of pendant - unclear if it was cast to be asymmetrical or not.

Provenance: private Orange County, California, USA collection

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