Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Belt Ornament

4th century
Made in Rome (possibly)
Roman or Byzantine
Copper alloy, gilt
Overall: 1 15/16 x 1 9/16 x 3/16 in. (4.9 x 4 x 0.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and Alastair B. Martin Gift, 1993
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
A couple stands in the traditional Roman marriage pose under a Christogram on the front of this ornament; Bellerophon on the winged horse Pegasus triumphs over the mythical Chimera on the back. Classical traditions were combined with the new faith as Christianity became the dominant religion in the Empire.

As Christianity became the dominant religion in Byzantine society, Christian imagery was increasingly found on jewelry. Crosses appear by the fifth century; the Virgin Mary, saints, angels, and other holy figures became popular in the sixth century. The images were thought to protect the wearer, aid in prayers, and even perform miracles.
[ Ward & Company Works of Art (American), New York (sold 1993)]
Wixom, William D., ed. Mirror of the Medieval World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999. no. 28, p. 25.

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