Belt clasp

ca. A.D. 1st–2nd century
H. 11.4 cm, W. 11.4 cm
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1921
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 404
In the late second millennium B.C., the tradition of lively animal-ornamented bronzes begins in the Caucasus region. Stylized animals with small waists, arched necks and backs are seen on numerous bronze tools including axes and pins, and are found in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Northern Caucasus by the beginning of the Late Bronze and Early Iron ages.

Cast-bronze belt clasps similar to this one have been excavated in the Republic of Georgia and are a distinctive product of that region in the first few centuries A.D. This square example features a highly stylized stag, with exaggerated haunches marked by incised concentric circles. The animal is attacked both from below and in the face by birds. The S-shaped spirals complete the central openwork design, with a stylized horned animal head above the back of the stag. A herringbone-patterned border frames the scene with raised rounded knobs at the corners.

The function of this object as a belt clasp is surmised from the loop and short tongue at the back.
[By 1913–until 1921, collection of Claude Anet, Paris]; [on consignement by Claude Anet to Joseph Brummer]; acquired by the Museum in 1921, purchased from Joseph Brummer, New York.

“Symposium on Nomadic Art,” Bryn Mawr University, Pennsylvania, October 9–October 23, 1959.

“’Animal Style’ Art from East to West,” Asia House Gallery, New York, The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, de Young Museum, San Francisco, 1970.

“The Golden Deer of Eurasia,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2000–2001.

Rostovtzeff, Michael. 1922. "Bronze Belt-Clasps and pendants from the North Caucasus." Bulletin of The Metropolitan Museum of Art 17 (2), p. 36, fig. 1e.

Carter, Dagny. 1957. The Symbol of the Beast: The Animal-Style Art of Eurasia. New York: Ronald Press Co, p. 125, pl. 32c.

Bunker, Emma C., C. Bruce Chatwin,and Ann R. Farkas. 1970. "Animal Style" Art from East to West, exh. cat. New York: Asia Society, pp. 47, 57, no. 32b.

Curtis, John E. 1978. "Some Georgian Belt-Clasps." In Arts of the Eurasian Steppelands, Colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia, No. 7, University of London, June 27-29, 1977, edited by Philip Denwood. London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, p. 101.

Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 439-441, no. 582.

Aruz, Joan, Ann Farkas, Andrei Alekseev, and Elena Korolkova, eds. 2000. The Golden Deer of Eurasia: Scythian and Sarmatian Treasures from the Russian Steppes, exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 215, fig. 77.