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Breast chain

  • Place of origin:

    Epirus (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast silver

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 77, shelf C, box 6

Balkan women used jewellery lavishly with their traditional costume. They fastened their clothes with decorative hooks, usually linked to each other by lengths of chain. These were worn across the front of the dress, across the back of the head linking the earrings to the head cloth, and down the front of the skirt.

This piece was worn on the breast. The central dome has two sharp hooks on the back which linked the front edges of a long sleeveless jacket. The two hooks at the ends of the chains were hooked to the head scarf, or into the costume somewhere on the shoulders, and the chains were left to hang loosely and artistically over the front of the body. It may have been worn alone, but more likely its owner added more clasps and chains down the front of her jacket, with a larger matching clasp at the waist. It was bought for £1 at the International Exhibition, London, 1872.

The double-headed eagle on the central boss is a symbol of imperial power. It was widely used throughout the Balkans, by both Christians and Muslims.

Physical description

Convex cast disc with double-headed eagle on the front, and two sharp horizontal hooks on the back. Four lengths of figure-of-eight chain hang from the lower edge, which are joined, in pairs, to two cast hooks decorated with double-headed eagles.

Place of Origin

Epirus (made)


ca. 1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cast silver


Length: 54.0 cm, Width: 4.5 cm, Depth: 1.3 cm

Descriptive line

Silver breast chain with three decorative cast hooks, Epirus (Greece), c. 1850.





Subjects depicted



Jewellery; Metalwork; Traditional jewellery (Europe)


Metalwork Collection

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