Disk Brooch

Date: 650–725

Geography: Made in northern France or western Germany

Culture: Frankish

Medium: Gold sheet, filigree, garnets with patterned foil backings

Dimensions: Overall: 1 15/16 x 1 15/16 x 1/2 in. (4.9 x 5 x 1.2 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Gold

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.191.134


The costume of Frankish women generally consisted of a tunic cinched by a belt, from which hung an array of pendants, some decorative and some practical. A wrap or cloak, secured by a brooch or pairs of brooches, was worn over the tunic. Shoes and garters, fastened with buckles, covered the legs. Earrings, necklaces, and hairpins completed the ensemble. Aspects of this dress changed from the fourth to seventh century, and brooches in particular convey changes in taste. From the mid-fourth to the mid-sixth century, pairs of small brooches held in place a light wrap that covered the upper part of the chest. By the seventh century, a single large disk brooch, such as this example, served the same function. Elaborately decorated with filigree and stone and glass inlays, the piece demonstrates the range of metalwork techniques employed with virtuosity by Frankish artists.