14th - turn of the 15th century
Golden Horde, Crimea or Asia Minor
Silver cast in a firm mould, chased, engraved and gilded, braid
This set of belt fittings contains 26 richly decorated items.
The outside face of the belt tip is embellished with a relief scene of
a "heroic hunt". A bowman has dismounted (his saddled horse
stands behind him) and kneeling shoots what is possibly a magic arrow
(its tail is decorated with a flower-like rosette) into the jaws of a
lion. The hunter has been led to the lion's lair by a dog. The reverse
of the piece bears plant ornament dominated by a characteristic half-palmette
with a spiral scroll found in the art of Asia Minor and the Crimea. The
retaining clip - a double-sided plate in the form of a six-petalled rosette
is decorated with relief images on both sides: on the obverse a hero (David?)
tearing open the jaws of a lion, on the reverse a Chinese flying phoenix.
The petals of the rosette around the image of the phoenix are filled with
open-work plant ornament alternating with depictions of creatures: a dog,
a bird and a basilisk. David and the phoenix are visual quotations from
artistic cultures spanning an area from the Yellow Sea to the Red Sea
and the Mediterranean. The basilisk - an image from Christian demonology
- is one more quotation from the European cultural sphere. However, the
main place in the decoration of the belt is occupied by the Middle Eastern
tradition, that formed primarily among the craftsmen of Seljuk Anatolia.