Necklace pendant

A piriform (i.e. pear-shaped) necklace pendant. A bird—probably an eagle—is depicted within the frame; in its talons it is holding a snake whose head is visible left. The bird’s wide-open wings surround a medallion within which a cross of the Maltese type is inscribed. Five globules are positioned around the perimeter of the frame, which also has a banded suspension loop at its top. The details are indicated by incisions and stamped dots. The Byzantines’ love of jewellery, which they inherited from the Romans, is well known. As Christianity prevailed, it was common for old forms to acquire new symbolic content in the context of the new religion. Here, the motif of the eagle seizing a snake has taken on new symbolisms with the inclusion of the cross referencing the Resurrection.

Skampavias K. 2007. Catalogue no. 66, in Skampavias K.—Chatzidakis N. (eds), Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum.Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, Athens, 74.