Monday, January 7, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Hands and Palm Trees Intaglio, 200 BCE

Rome, c. 200 BCE
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I always wonder who wore these pieces of jewelry, especially these ancient examples whose original owners are typically unknown. This was a jewel which was full of meaning and sentiment. To whom did it belong? How much did it mean to him or her?

Made around 200 BCE, this ring is set with an intaglio which was likely carved in Rome. The intaglio of clasped hands above a branch of palm is carved into translucent orange-red carnelian. The design is a heraldic device known as the “fede.” This image of two hands joined together was a popular symbol for wedding rings, however, such rings were exchanged between friends, and even between captains of armies and nations to show fidelity.

Above and below the hands, the words “Sesichoros” and “Eros” have been inscribed. The setting of the ring is silver which was later gilt, likely in the early Nineteenth Century. It was acquired by the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) and first exhibited in 1871. 


Angela Magnotti Andrews said...

These old pieces are so fascinating. However, they also bother me because I like to know more about things like this than is possible to know!

Joseph Crisalli said...

As do I. I spend far too much time wondering about such things.