Bracelet

1st century-3rd century (made)
Bracelet thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Snakes have been used in jewellery since the ancient Egyptians. The Nile cobra was a symbol of royalty but the snake used in Greek and Roman jewellery was the non-venomous Asclepian snake (elaphe longissima). Snakes were associated with healing deities such as Isis in Egypt or the Greek God of medicine, Asclepius. They symbolised regeneration, healing and rebirth and therefore were used as a symbol of eternity.

The long sinuous form of the snake made it very suitable for use in jewellery, either as a ring or bracelet. Snake jewellery varies from quite elaborately decorated rings and bracelets, often engraved to suggest scales and set with bright, jewelled eyes, to more crudely made silver rings such as those found in the Norfolk Snettisham jewellery hoard, now in the British Museum.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Brief Description
Bracelet, gold, in the form of a snake, Europe (Roman), 1st-3rd century
Physical Description
Bracelet, gold, in the form of a snake.
Dimensions
  • Depth: 2.8cm
  • Diameter: 7.2cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Object history
This bracelet was formerly part of the collection of Dame Joan Evans (1893-1977), art historian and collector. Early on she collected gems and jewels which resulted in the 1921 book, English Jewellery from the 5th Century BC to 1800. She published widely on jewellery, French medieval art and architecture. Evans was elected the first woman president of the Society of Antiquaries in 1959 (through 1964). She was a trustee of the British Museum (1963-67). In her personal life, she donated time and money to many charitable historic causes, nearly all of them anonymously. Her will left collections to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the Birmingham City Art Gallery.



She gave her gem and jewellery collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum through a series of gifts, beginning in 1960. Her association with the museum went back to her childhood and she developed personal friendships with the museum curators and Directors. In 1975, two years before her death aged 84, Joan Evans made over her remaining jewels to the museum, choosing to remain anonymous during her lifetime.
Subject depicted
Summary
Snakes have been used in jewellery since the ancient Egyptians. The Nile cobra was a symbol of royalty but the snake used in Greek and Roman jewellery was the non-venomous Asclepian snake (elaphe longissima). Snakes were associated with healing deities such as Isis in Egypt or the Greek God of medicine, Asclepius. They symbolised regeneration, healing and rebirth and therefore were used as a symbol of eternity.



The long sinuous form of the snake made it very suitable for use in jewellery, either as a ring or bracelet. Snake jewellery varies from quite elaborately decorated rings and bracelets, often engraved to suggest scales and set with bright, jewelled eyes, to more crudely made silver rings such as those found in the Norfolk Snettisham jewellery hoard, now in the British Museum.
Collection
Accession Number
M.13-1966

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record createdMay 3, 2005
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