Friday, April 13, 2007

Electrum Pendant

This electrum pendant dates to the last half of the 7th century, 650-600. It was discovered in a necropolis on the island of Rhodes, and shows a combination of Greek with Oriental influence. It is a little bit hard to see, but Robin Osborne's description helps enormously.

The upper plaque has two human heads in relief, their hair marked out by granulation, the lower has a further relief of a naked female figure surmounted by the head of a panther; again granulation is used for the hair of the woman, and to give her a necklace, and for the features of the panther’s face. Panther, heads, and female nudity all have their roots in eastern products, and the techniques employed too had been relearned by Greeks from eastern artists in the ninth century BC.

Even within this single piece something of the way in which Greek artists modified eastern motifs can be seen. Not only the nudity of the lower figure but also the rounded forms of the body, the fuller face and undifferentiated hair distinguish her from the two heads above whose faces are more triangular, mouths less prominent, and hair heavily patterned. The two upper heads approach a formula... virtually ubiquitous in all artistic media in the middle of the seventh century. This formulae, which modern scholars have come to call Daedalic because it is particularly well represented on Crete, the island with which the mythical craftsman Daedalus was closely associated, can still more clearly seen in a small ivory sphinx... (Osborne, 49-50).