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8th C. Russian Bronze Bracteate Pendant

Russia, Western Siberia, Yamal Peninsula and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (District), 8th to 10th century CE. A huge, round, bronze bracteate pendant, with a central hole covered by a hinged bronze flap. Rivets and stamped designs give the piece a textured surface. In western Siberia during the Bronze Age, which there extended into what we in the west think of as the medieval period, there were sanctuaries in the forest where archaeologists and local people have found evidence of bronze and silver smelting, as well as bronze and silver artifacts. These sanctuaries seem to have accumulated, over many generations, metal gifts left to the spirits who patronized them. These sanctuaries played a role in local life into the early 20th century, with many people being afraid of disturbing the ancient metal items within; accounts of archaeological expeditions into the 1980s include much information on what superstitious activities the scientists had to go through before local informants would take them to sites. These objects are rare outside of the Russian world, and nearly all of the information published about them is in Russian. We believe that much of their metalwork was meant to be worn decoratively and people were buried with it after death. During this time period, they had extensive contacts with the Vikings/Scandinavian people who came from their west, and there is a clear artistic tradition between this culture and theirs. However, Central Siberian items like this one show a clear unique design for this culture with only some minor Viking influence. Size: 5.3" W (13.5 cm)

Condition: Near choice, beautiful blue-green patina

Provenance: Ex-Private LA County collection

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