SCYTHIAN WEARS

THE SCYTHIAN SECTIONS:

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SCYTHIAN WEARS: NECKLACES, PENDANTS, AND EARRINGS
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The depictions of griffins are frequent in Scythian art. Griffins are legendary beasts with the body of a lion and heads and wings of an eagle. In Greek myths and historical descriptions, griffins lived in northern Scythia, in the lands of the legendary one-eyed people, Arimaspi. Griffins made their nest near gold mines and rigorously guarded their treasures from the cunning Arimaspi. In Greek writings, northern regions were often called the land of the gold-guarding griffins. Herodotus wrote, “The most outlying lands, as they enclose and wholly surround all the rest of the world, are likely to have those things which we think the finest and the rarest.” Histories iii.116.1)

A hryvna is a large open-ended neck ring made of metal. Frequently found in royal Scythian burials, hryvnas were important symbols of rank in nomadic societies, worn by Scythian chieftains. Their designs vary, often including animal or human figures decorating hryvnas’ ends. Item 3 on display is decorated with the figures of centaurs armed with bows. The symbolism of armed centaurs is central to Greek perceptions of nomadic cultures. Part human and part horse, the centaurs of Greek myths are believed to be inspired by an early Greek encounter with horse-riding nomads. The other hryvna is decorated with lion’s heads. Neck decorations and bracelets ending in lion’s heads were popular in Assyria and Persia.

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IMAGE CITATION:

1. Decorative Cover Pieces, 4th-2nd Centuries B.C.

Gold, past: hammering, stamping, soldering

2.  Earring in the Form of Griffin, ˆ5th Century B.C.

Gold: hammering, soldering, filigree, granulation

3. Necklace (Hryvna), 4th Century B.C.

Gold: casting, forging

4.  Bracelets, 4th Century B.C.

Gold: repousee, brazing, hammering

5.  Necklace (Hryvna), 4th Century B.C.

Gold: repousee, brazing, hammering

6.  Diadem, 4th-3rd Centuries B.C.

Gold, glass: solding, stamping, wicker-work, engraving

 

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