An extremely rare Ancient Viking bronze scabbard chape, depicting the Norse god Odin, dating to approximately 800-900 A.D.
The chape is of usual Viking form and is constructed in openwork technique. The decoration is in 'Jelling' style and depicts a central moustached figure on both sides, with bulging eyes, triangular nose and slit mouth. Both figures are surrounded by an elaborate intertwined complex of foliage and animals. The central figure, probably representing the Norse God Odin, appears to be holding the sprouting branches with both hands. On one side the figure appears to have a circular navel. Two bear heads lie at the top of the chape.
A remarkably complex masterpiece of Viking art.
The chape would have attached to the very distal end on the scabbard in ancient times, securing the leather in place. An inferior piece can now be seen at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.1
Length: 2 7/8 inches
Condition: Unrestored. Extremely well preserved with an even, olive-green patina. It appears that a small area of one side of the chape has been flattened in antiquity, with the insertion of two tiny iron pins. It seems likely that an attempt was made to repair the damaged portion in ancient times, attesting to its value.
Provenance: Ex. British private collection, reputedly found in Scandinavia in the 1950's.
1Ashmolean Museum reference number AN1909.95, found in Gotland, Sweden. For a picture of the piece, see the following link.
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