Artistic Carved Bone From Zarichne Village

Keywords: Kyivan Rus, XII—XIIIth c., decorative art, bone carving craft, zoomorphic images, griffin

Abstract

In the article a decorative antler plaque with the image of griffin found in 2020 in the unfortified part of the hill-fort near Zarichne village (Trostianetskyi district, Sumy Region) is analyzed. The item comes from an object dated from the 12—13th centuries.

General decorating composition of the product is carved in the through groove technique. The main elements of the griffin figure (head, wings, paws and tail) were modeled in low relief technique using elements of incised carving.

A possible interpretation of the item is a pendant, bracket or other decorative piece.

The style of the griffin image is quite traditional for Ancient Rus plastic art of the 11—13th c. However, the through groove decoration of bone products was not common in the bone carving tradition in the southern regions of Rus. The manufacturing technique of the item may indicate its imported origin (most likely from the Crimea or Bulgaria). It is also possible a local manufacturing as an imitation of the imported sample or by an itinerant craftsman.

The symbolic meaning of the griffin images can be reduced to several aspects: 1) the connection with the authorities (governance), including in its sacred aspects (elements of the elite’s ornaments); 2) connection with military symbols (images on belt pads, saddle details); 3) security symbols on details of clothes, jewelry, both male and female; 4) the cosmic symbolism of the griffin (in particular, the image near the “world tree”) is closely related to the above.

From the context of a decorative plaque from Zarichne (the unfortified part of the hill-fort, outside the social elite’s objects), one can assume its role as a product that, in addition to a purely aesthetic load, could perform protective functions in the ideas of its owner.

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Published
2020-12-14
Section
Publication of Archaeological Material