Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object


12th–13th century
Gold; cast, engraved, granulation
Band: Diam. 7/8 in. (2.2 cm) Th. 3/8 in. ( 1 cm) Gr. W. 3/16 in. (0.5 cm) Sm. W. 1/8 in. (0.3 cm) BezeL. H. 1/4 in. (0.6 cm) W. 11/16 in. (1.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Everett Birch, 1976
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
This gold ring is cast and engraved with an exceptional number of figures, representing frontal heads and harpies. Harpies become a common representation in Islamic art from the second half of the 11th century, and only for a period of about two centuries, in all the regions from Central Asia to Anatolia ruled by dynasties of Turkic origins, such as the Ghaznavids and the Seljuqs. As human-headed birds, they have a hybrid nature, and were thought to have had protective and magical powers. They might also have an astrological significance, as symbolic depiction of the sign Gemini. Rings with appliqués and hexagonal bezels, as this one, are considered to have slowly disappeared in the 13th century.
Mr. and Mrs. Everett B. Birch, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (until 1976; gifted to MMA)
Ettinghausen, Richard. Archives of Asian Art. vol. XXXI (1977–1978). p. 139.

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, and Manuel Keene. Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983. no. 31, p. 62, ill. (b/w).

Price, Judith. "Exquisite Objects from the Cradle of Civilization." In Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry. Philadelphia; London, 2008. p. 102, ill. (color).

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