Shells as a Costume Element of the Turkic-Ugric Population of the Saltiv Culture (Based on Materials from the Krasna Hirka Biritual Burial Ground)

Keywords: Saltiv culture, jewelry, protective amulets, pendants made of mollusk shells, button-shaped buckles

Abstract

In eight burials (seven inhumations and one cremation) of the Krasna Hirka burial ground in Kharkiv region, there were found the pendants made of sea shells of the mollusk «Cypraea moneta» (burials Nos. 53, 176, 180, 191, 195, 311) (figs. 1: 2, 19, 20; 2: 15, 32; 3: 11; 4: 19; 5: 9) and pendants made of the valves of river mollusks («Unió pictorum» or «Anodonta») (burials Nos. 53, 185, 309) (figs. 2: 16, 33, 34; 6: 23—29). The pendants were present in the child’s burials (burials Nos. 53, 180, 185, 191, 195, 309) and young women of childbearing age (burials Nos. 176, 311). The location of shells jewelry in the burials indicates that they were sewn on clothes and headwear (burial No. 309), they were a part of removable breast ornaments (burial No. 176) (fig. 5: 15), a handbag decoration that was hung to the belt (burial Nos. 185, 191, 311) (figs. 2: 17; 3: 1; 4: 1), also they were woven together with glass beads, bronze bells and bronze spiral beads into the braids of buried people (burials Nos. 53, 180, 195) (fig. 2: 1). The arrangement of the pendants in the burial No. 309 allows asserting that three pendants adorned the child’s cap, being sewn at the area of the temples and on the crown (fig. 7: 2). By the location of the beads, bronze beads, bells and four more pendants of mollusks shells (fig. 7: 1), it can be seen that the collar of the child’s clothes in the neck area was decorated
with monochrome beads and small beads sewn on, and four shell pendants that were sewn onto the child’s clothes in the chest area (fig. 7: 3). Polychrome beads (eye-shaped and striped), together with cast bronze bells and bronze beads, were threaded into the child’s braids (fig. 7: 4). In the investigated burials, the shell pendants resembled protective amulets. The connection of these jewelry with the water element, their shape and colour (white/ pearl) indicate that they are related to the cult of the Moon and are a symbol of the Great Goddess — the mother/ progenitor of all living beings and the giver of all life’s blessings.

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2022-03-23
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Publication of Archaeological Material