Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Hungarian Fede Ring, Seventeenth Century

This and all related images from:
The British Museum

This "fede-ring," a finger ring displaying the visual devices of two clasped hands which symbolize unity and fidelity, is constructed of gold and was made in Hungary in the Seventeenth Century.  It is possible that the ring was altered in the Nineteenth Century.

The ring consists of a broad gold band, smooth on the inside, but adorned on the outer face with a pattern giving the illusion of ten, twisted, alternating wires.  Above the shoulders, a pattern of enameled gold takes the place of a traditional bezel.  Within this pattern, a red-enameled heart is pierced by two crossed black arrows.  this heart is mounted with a colored crystal from which an opaque blue enamel ribbon extends on the other side.  From these, enameled framed protrude.

Within each frame a gold loop hangs, through the left-hand loop has been passed a tiny separate silver ring that moves freely; through the right-hand loop has been passed a tiny separate padlock of silver, which also moves freely on the gold loop. Above and below, attached to the edges of the band of the finger-ring but with a number of small holes left along the edge of the band on either side are two identical pairs of gold enamelled wrists and hands. Each pair of white-enamelled hands is clasped over a red-enamelled heart, and the wrists are covered in a stylized form of sleeve cuff, enameled in white, opaque blue, black and translucent green. 

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