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The Treasure of the Golden Horde

Belt fittings

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.
Judging by the archaeological observations, the belt - which was found in 1896 in burial-mound 6 by the Belorechenskaya Cossack settlement in the northern Caucasus - formed part of a female burial.




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