Celtic bronze Ornament
Period: 3rd-2nd Century B.C.
Dimensions: 2.9 cm x 6.5 cm
Acquired on the German art market in 2005.
Conditions: Excellent state of conservation
This cast bronze ornament is surprising because of its signiﬁcant weight. It is rectangular with the lower part cut straight and pierced by a square opening in its center. The object is hollow: two cylindrical rivets with ﬂattened heads, which also pierce the anterior part of the ornament, are inserted into the center of the hollow space; on the back, the piece was probably covered by a small ﬂat sheet.
Finished with a slightly curved decorative nail with a spherical head which extended from the opening under the piece, this pin was used to prevent a wheel from sliding off the axle of a chariot: it was threaded through a hole drilled at the ends of the axles so that the wheel could not fall off. Linchpins in the shape of curved nails are hallmarks of the Celtic World: the known examples, which are very few, generally present a rectangular ornament like this one, while others are surmounted by triangular or hemispherical decorations.
Three heads of animals in relief decorate the surface of the piece: two canines (wolves?) seem to surround a ram’s head. As is often the case in Celtic animal art, forms are stylized and abstract patterns and subjects are melded and mixed in an unnatural, although always original and varied way : thus, even on an small object like this one, the lower jaw of the wolves turns into a large volute with a bud in the center, a sort of ﬁsh tail extends from the ram’s head, a horse tail replaces the wolves’ neck (the wolves’ teeth look like a dotted bulge, the ram’s horn turns into an arch and the ears into buds in relief, etc.
BibliographyDUVAL P.M., Les Celtes, Paris, 1977, pp. 113-117.
JACOBSTAHL P., Early Celtic Art, Oxford, 1968, pl. 101-103, n. 159-164.