Every time someone mentions word “medieval” some kind of a grey battle scene flashes in front of my eyes. That lack of color in my mental picture for this period is mostly motivated by nickname Middle Ages got – the “Dark ages”. My highschool philosophy teacher considered this nickname to be a bullshit, cause even in that time humanity managed to progress. Still, all of the blood and rust and dust form battlefields put out the medieval light for me. In that darkness the only thing that did shine bright was a hunger for more power. This is the case trough entire history, but Middle Ages gave that hunger probably the cruelest form. And, once they‘ve been fed, medieval kings and nobility had to show their power to the world. How? Same way gangstas do – bling bling! Most of Medieval Jewelry from this period you can find on websites of any European museum, yet I’ve decided to present to you pieces from 3 collections of National museum in Belgrade. These great collections contain pieces of jewelry dated from middle of 6th till 16th century found on Balkan Peninsula.
First collection to present is one from the early Middle Ages. Jewelry in this period was under strong byzantine influence and jewelers work would vary from simple to some more complex engraving or pouring. They were mostly silver and golden. This ring below, for example, is gold-plated, which if I understand medieval psychology, means “we don’t have any gold, but we are God representatives and we need that yellow shine”. Also, if I understand medieval psychology, some nobleman would remove my tongue with candent tongs by now.
Bad jokes aside, this next silver piece shows us some pouring jewelery work of great complexity for that time.
And this golden bracelet is my favorite from early medieval collection. Just look at this engraving! Animal engraved is probably a wolf. That was a holy animal for Slavic people long after they accepted Christianity.
Late medieval jewelry colection contains pieces from 12th till late 15th century. There is gold-plated, ring with Lazarevic dynasty emblem (powerful, right?). Also, golden and silver earrings, and a ring I personaly find to be very interesting – ring cut out from carnelian stone. These pieces were made by diverse jewelry techniques: cutting, pouring, granulation and boosting.
Ring with emblem of Lazarevic dynasty, Novo Brdo, first half of 15th century, silver, gold-plate:
Earrings, Novo Brdo, end of 14th or first half of 15th century, gold:
Earring, Novo Brdo, end of 14th or first half of 15th century, silver, gold-plate:
Ring, Novo Brdo, the end of 14thcentury, carnelian:
Medieval jewelry in collection of Middle age and Byzantine art
Crown of silver and precious stones, Markos town next to Prilep, first half of 14th century:
So, you have seen early and late medieval jewelry and, for some of you, it might seem poor (Tough it isn’t, don’t be ignoramus!). But, here is another collection that might be richer and more eye-catching jewelry from collection of Middle Ages and Byzantine art. Pieces this collection contains represent the peaks of jeweler crafts on Balkan. That is noticeable in fine engraving on some of these objects. Just like the ring of queen Teodora or brooch of prince Petar of Hum.
On the other hand, looking at the ring of prince Radoslav, artistry of jeweler is hidden in its simplicity.
Before I say goodbye, I have to point out that both ring of queen Teodora and ring of prince Radoslav have engraved words of one old language – Slavonic. The rest I leave for you to find out!
Visual courtesy of National museum in Belgrade