The diadem from the Preslav treasure Cover Image
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Диадемата от Преславското съкровище
The diadem from the Preslav treasure

Author(s): Мariela Inkova
Subject(s): History, Archaeology, Middle Ages
Published by: Фондация "Българско историческо наследство"
Keywords: Preslav treasure; diadem; rosettes; palmettes; appliques; “The flight of Alexander the Great”; griffins; senmurves; standard; enamel

Summary/Abstract: The Preslav Treasure, discovered in 1978, includes five arched diadem plaques measuring from 4.48 to 5.34 cm, which are part of a compound diadem. A scene with the Ascension of Alexander the Great and mythical creatures – two senmurvs, lion-headed and eagle-headed griffins – are represented on the front side of the plaques in cloisonné enamel technique (Figs. 1–5). According to T. Totev’s accepted assumption, the diadem had once contained at least two more plaques with images of griffins (Fig. 6). The plaques are made up of two gold panels subsequently soldered – a back thinner panel with a die-struck recess and a thicker one, with an openwork cut-out for the image. The attachment of the plaques onto the organic fabric was achieved through circular openings drilled along the periphery of the plaques. The cloison walls forming the designs of the image were made of gold strips with a thickness of 48 to 84 μm and a width of 300 to 650 μm. They were bent after the pattern and fixed with their „ribs“ to the plaques with gold solder. The cloisons were then filled with single-layered transparent and opaque enamels. Two monuments, an intaglio representing Shapur I (240/2–270/2), (Fig. 7a), and the relief of Anahita in Naqsh-e Rostam, allow the genesis of the diadem composed of arched plaques to be derived from Sasanian Iran. As a sign of prestige, the model is borrowed in the Byzantine ceremonial, evidenced by a series of miniature images, icons, murals and metal-plastics (Figs. 7b–h; 8). On the other hand, imperial diplomatic gifts, including royal crowns for newly converted peoples, inspired the adoption of the model in the West (Fig. 9) and in the East – in Kievan Rus (Fig. 10). The characteristic stylistic features of Alexander’s image represented with round eyes and lines marking the eyes and eyebrows are typical of the early works of art executed in cloisonné enamel on a transparent green background, dating back to the end of the 9th–10th centuries. (Figs. 12–13). However, the execution on a gold background suggests a later dating or rather the diadem plaques discussed here are some of the earliest monuments. At the same time, the composition of the scene and the decorative techniques used afford direct parallels to the images of the St. Moritz ewer, dated to the 9th century (Fig. 15). The mythical creatures on the other plaques and the decorative range of details and realities used – standards, necklaces, S-shaped and almond-shaped motifs, rosettes, circles and palmettes are inspired by the Sasanian imagery through the mediation of the Arabic ornamentation represented in the 10th–11th century miniatures and fabrics (Figs. 17–22). The semantics of the images on the plaques reflect the idea of ​​the apotheosis and triumph of the emperor presented as a master of the universe. In this sense, unlike most adornments from the Preslav treasure, the diadem should be the ruler’s regalia. Identification with the image of Alexander the Great is typical of the emperors of the Macedonian dynasty. And the gifts with his image bound the recipients to the position of vassals, such as of Tsar Peter, who married the Byzantine Princess Maria Lakapene in 927.

  • Issue Year: 9/2018
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 53-92
  • Page Count: 40
  • Language: Bulgarian