Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beauty in Objects

Here's a simple bell displayed in the Victoria & Albert in the Viking Section. What a striking, simple form and an inspiration for a teapot handle.

Taken a bit farther in ornamentation, these two bells are real beauties. (Sorry about the quality of the photo--lots of glass-case reflection going on) They look like ancient bells that had been encased at a later time in brass. Makes you wonder how precious they were that they would have this ornamentation added. What were they used for that would cause the owners to embellish them so? Was the brass casing an influence of Irish design; the result of seeing/taking plunder from Irish monastaries? There have been cases of plunder from raids being broken up or redesigned to embellish Viking artifacts. These pieces seem to be examples of this practice.

Two cases held stunning drinking horns. How beautiful they are and how amazing it is they have survived all these years. One wonders how they were used; what went into them? What did the animals look like that had these glorious horns? They were quite large--it would take two hands to drink from them. Were they hung on pillars in the log houses? Were they fastened to packs and taken on ships? Who drank out of them? Were they ceremonial horns or for only special people to use? By the way, the collection of small pots in the lower left of the second photo is a grouping of brass-capped burl knots made into little containers. Quite unique. For Viking chap-stick, perhaps?

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