Temple Pendant with Two Sirens Flanking a Tree of Life (front) and Confronted Birds (back), Cloisonné enamel, gold, Kievan Rus'

Temple Pendant with Two Sirens Flanking a Tree of Life (front) and Confronted Birds (back)

11th–12th century
Made in Kiev
Kievan Rus'
Cloisonné enamel, gold
Overall: 2 3/8 x 2 1/4 x 9/16 in. (6 x 5.7 x 1.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300
When Kievan Rus, a powerful new state to the north of the Byzantine Empire, accepted Christianity as its official religion in 988, the aristocracy also adopted the manners and dress of the Byzantine court. Local artists soon produced their own versions of Constatinopolitan fashions. This temple pendant of precious metals worked in cloisonné enamel or niello are local variants of the more intricately detailed works made for the Byzantine court.

As in Byzantium, temple pendants may have been worn next to the face by both the men and the women of Rus. The works shown here were perhaps buried by their owners when the Mongol armies under Batu Khan sacked Kiev in 1240.
Alex W. von Zvenigorodskii, Russia; [ Durlacher Brothers, London (sold 1907)]; J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (1907–1913)
Dalton, O. M. "Byzantine Enamels in Mr. Pierpont Morgan's Collection." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 21, no. 109 (April 1912). pl. III.

Wagner de Kertesz, Margarita. Historia Universal de las Joyas. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Centurion, 1947. p. 255.

Brown, Katharine Reynolds. "Russo-Byzantine Jewellery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Apollo 111 (January 1980). pp. 6-9, fig. 10-11.

Evans, Helen C., and William D. Wixom, ed. The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 212B, pp. 309-11.

Pekars'ka, L. V. "Treasures from Ancient Kiev in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Dumbarton Oaks." Metropolitan Museum Journal 32 (1997). p. 70, fig. 5 , 6.

Evans, Helen C., Melanie Holcomb, and Robert Hallman. "The Arts of Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 58, no. 4 (Spring 2001). p. 56.