Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Belt Buckle

7th century
Made in North France
Iron, silver, niello, garnet
Overall: 6 11/16 x 3 3/8 x 13/16 in. (17 x 8.5 x 2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
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)
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