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Pear-Shaped Pendant

Middle Byzantine
second half of the 11th century
2.1 cm (13/16 in.)
enamel on gold

Not on view


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This piece boasts not only a superb craftsmanship, but also a rare form. This tear-drop shape is unusual, and it is not clear how it was used. It could have been sewn onto a garment for use as a button. It could also have served as part of a decorative fringe along the edge of a loros, the jeweled stole that can be seen wrapped around emperors, or perhaps on the edge of the sagion, a jeweled cape, an example of which can be seen on the emperor of the limestone roundel in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (BZ.1937.23) It could equally have been a pendant at the end of a pendulion, one of the pair of hanging ornaments attached to the imperial diadem.

Whatever its purpose, its workmanship is excellent. The artisan wrought very fine gold wire into tiny intricate shapes, crosses, plant tendrils, and repeating geometric shapes. Red, white and blue glass enamel then fills the areas created. The virtuosic caliber of work is comparable to the finest Byzantine enamels.

- J. Hanson

Handbook of the Collection (Washington, D.C., 1946), 96, no. 179.

The Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard University (Washington, D.C., 1955), 139, no. 275.

M. C. Ross, Jewelry, Enamels, and Art of the Migration Period (Washington, D.C., 1965, 2nd ed. with addendum by S.A. Boyd and S. R. Zwirn, 2005), 103, no. 151, pl. 68.

Handbook of the Byzantine Collection (Washington, D.C., 1967), 70, no. 250.

K. Wessel, Die byzantinische Emailkunst vom 5. bis 13. Jahrhundert, Beiträge zur Kunst des christlichen Ostens, 4 (Recklinghausen, 1967, Byzantine Enamels from the 5th to the 13th Century, trans. Irene R. Gibbons, Greenwich, Conn., New York Graphic Society 1967), 95-96, no. 31.

W. D. Wixom, "Two Cloisonné Enamel Pendants: the New York Temple Pendant and the Cleveland Enkolpion," in Byzantine East, Latin West: Art-Historical Studies in Honor of Kurt Weitzmann ed. D. Mouriki, C.F. Moss and K. Kiefer (Princeton, N.J., 1995), 659-65., esp. 660-61, fig. 4-5.

H. C. Evans and W. D. Wixom, The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 11-July 6, 1997, (New York, 1997), 212-213, no. 146.

J. C. Anderson, "Polychrome Tiles of Byzantium," in A Lost Art Rediscovered: The Architectural Ceramics of Byzantium ed. S.E.J. Gerstel and J.A. Lauffenburger (Baltimore, University Park, Pa., 2001), xvii, 318.

A. R. Littlewood, A. E. Laiou, F. E. Shlosser, and N. Metallinos, Byzantium: the Guardian of Hellenism, Hellenic Studies Lecture Series (Montréal, 2004), 117, fig. 6.

Exhibition History
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, "The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843 - 1261," March 11 - July 6, 1997.

Acquisition History
Gift of Mr. William Tyler to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, October 1940;

Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, October-November 1940;

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, DC.