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Gilded silver pieces from a belt


Length: 106.000 cm (overall, mounted)
Length: 106.000 cm (overall, mounted)
Width: 2.800 cm (each plaque)

Purchased with the assistance of the Brooke Sewell Bequest

ME OA 1959.7-22.1-5

Room 34: The Islamic world

    Gilded silver pieces from a belt

    From south-east Anatolia (modern Turkey), early 13th century AD

    The heraldic symbol of two Artuqid rulers

    These gilded silver pieces make up a richly-decorated belt, including the buckle, two plaques, and extra trappings for suspending a dagger. The openwork dagger-trappings are executed in an interlace pattern of two confronted winged dragons.

    The silver plaques are fitted with stout pins, for mounting onto a leather belt. The first plaque is set beside the buckle, and is decorated with three roundels against a background of knotted interlace. The central roundel contains a double-headed eagle, while the outer two contain pairs of addorsed (back to back) winged animals. The double-headed eagle was used as a heraldic symbol on the coins of two members of the Artuqid dynasty of Diyarbakir (in modern Turkey): Nasīr al-Dīn Mahmud (reigned 1201-22) and Rukn al-Dīn Mawdud (reigned 1222-32). The motif also appears in later thirteenth-century metalwork decoration, such as a silver-inlaid brass incense burner, made in Damascus in 1264-79, and a late thirteenth-century brass tray, possibly made at Tabriz in north-western Iran.

    The second silver plaque belongs on the other end of the belt, and is decorated with three horizontal registers of running animals against a background pattern of spirals. On the top and bottom registers dogs chase hares and other animals, a popular motif in Islamic metalwork of this period. The middle register depicts two confronted winged lions, with small dogs attacking them from either side. Two small lions sit on the outer edges of this register. The outer corners of the plaque contain small square interlace knots.

    R. Ward, Islamic metalwork (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)


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