Belt Buckle with a Griffin

Date:
second half 6th century
Geography:
Made in Burgundy
Culture:
Frankish
Medium:
Copper alloy, "tinned" surface
Dimensions:
Overall: 1 3/4 x 3 15/16 x 9/16 in. (4.4 x 10 x 1.4 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.191.226
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
Belts were important features of early medieval dress. Not only did they serve the practical function of holding weapons and tools, but their fittings, which could vary in terms of material, decoration, and size, were also highly visible indicators of rank and status. Iron buckles, many imposing in size, were worn by both men and women. Their intricate decoration was achieved by squeezing narrow twisted strips of silver into patterns engraved on the surface of the prefabricated iron pieces. A complete belt would have consisted of a buckle, a counter plate that was placed opposite the buckle, and sometimes a rectangular plate placed in the middle of the belt at the back for decoration.
J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (until 1917)
Ricci, Seymour de. Catalogue of a Collection of Gallo-Roman Antiquities Belonging to J. Pierpont Morgan. Paris: C. Berger, 1911. no. 226, p. 35, pl. XII.

Kuhn, Herbert. "Die Germanische Greifenchnallen der volkerwanderungezeit." Ipek 12 (1938). no. 7, p. 80, pl. 34 n. 28.

Ricketson, Edith B. "Barbarian Jewelry of the Merovingian Period." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 5, no. 5 (January 1947). p. 142.

Monsters, Gargoyles, and Dragons: Animals in the Middle Ages. South Hadley, Mass.: Mount Holyoke College, 1977. no. 2, p. 9.

Brown, Katharine R. Migration Art, A.D. 300-800. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 36, pp. 31-32.

Brown, Katharine R., Dafydd Kidd, and Charles T. Little, ed. From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. p. 255, 349, fig. 21.43.