Greek Jewelry: Pins, Girdles

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In earlier times simple pins formed of gold wire appear to have been often employed to fasten the dress. Bow-shaped brooches were also worn, but few gold brooches are met with except those belonging to the later Greek ornaments. These are characterized by a small arched bow and a long sheath for the point of the pin decorated with designs in fine filigree.

The goldsmith’s art is much more limited in its application to girdles than to head or neck ornaments ; and yet, as is well known, girdles formed an important item in the dress of men and women. The girdle over which the long tunic hung in deep folds was often of simple cords with tassels affixed to the ends.

Homer speaks of Hera as wearing a ” zone from which a hundred tassels hang.” Girdles appear to have been mainly of soft ligaments, which probably, with the increase of luxury, were adorned with gold ornamentation.

It is remarkable, at all events, that those species of gold ornament that can certainly be recognized as girdles are obvious imitations of textile fabrics. Corresponding to the ornaments found at Mycenae which were employed by the primitive Greeks for decorating their garments are thin plates of gold, termed bractece, pierced with small holes, which served the later Greeks for similar purpose.

They are repousse, and have clearly been stamped with dies, for the designs on them show constant repetition. They are of various sizes and shapes, and it is evident that some were meant to be worn as single ornaments, while others, sewn on in lines, formed regular borders or designs on the robes.

It is possible that, like the ball-shaped buttons met with in many fanciful formations, some of more solid construction served the purpose of clasps that drew together the dress at intervals along the arm, and acted as fastenings at the neck or on the shoulder. Some attachments of this kind in the form of round discs, with their gold surface richly ornamented with filigree and also with enamel, may have been actual brooches and have had hinged pins affixed below.

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Author: fairydew1

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