This small, crescent shaped earring depicts two peacocks flanking a cross. The earring is gold and was made through the repoussé technique. The material and technique speak to the economic status of t..
This small, crescent shaped earring depicts two peacocks flanking a cross. The earring is gold and was made through the repoussé technique. The material and technique speak to the economic status of the wearer. Even though the earring is quite small, gold was valuable and the earring seems to be handmade which would increase the price. The amount of detail put into the earring also demonstrates the skill of the craftsman. The space between the two ends of the thin hoop hints at how it was worn on someone’s ear. Jewelry can express a great deal about the wearer’s identity. This earring’s material, manufacture, and manner of use all contribute to expressing the identity of the owner. The gold and technique, as stated above, add to the value of the earring and convey a higher economic status. The cross indicates the wearer’s Christian identity and role in religious life. Art typically depicted women wearing earrings so it is likely that this was worn by a woman. The peacock was associated with immortality, the Roman goddess Juno, and Christian resurrection. The cross, also associated with Christianity, was believed to have protective powers. This image of peacocks flanking either a cross or a vase was a common design on Byzantine earrings from the 6th–7th centuries. This motif is depicted on a similar pair of earrings, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (no. 188.8.131.52-2), which are additionally adorned with gold beading along the lower end. The similar design allows us to suggest a date for earring in the Blick-Harris Study Collection. Sources Consulted Alexis Castor, "Etruscan Jewelry and Identity," in A Companion to the Etruscans, eds. Sinclair Bell, and Alexandra A. Carpino (Malden, MA: Wiley, 2016), 275–292. Asen Kirin, ed. Sacred Art, Secular Context: Objects of Art from the Byzantine Collection of Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC (Athens, GA: Georgia Museum of Art, 2005). Eunice Dauterman Maguire, Henry Maguire, and Maggie J. Duncan-Flowers, Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House (Urbana: Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1989). Alexis Mladineo ('24) for ARHS 110 Introduction to Western Art (Spring 2021).