Wednesday, September 15, 2010

scythian gold

Today the Handmade Division is blogging on things that inspire us to create. I find inspiration in many ways, including taking a historical look at metalwork. I've been reading a catalog from an exhibition of Scythian gold from 3000-100 BC held at the Met in 1975. Many of the objects are quite famous but all are new to me.

This one is probably the most well-known, a golden pectoral from the royal grave at Tolstaja Mogila kurgan, Ukraine, 400 BC. The catalog doesn't give much detail on how it was made, it does mention that the figural elements were cast and that's it probably Greek workmanship.

The weight of the piece is
1150 grams, or 36.9 troy oz, or 2.5 lb. Assuming it's 24k that's $47,232 worth of gold at yesterday's spot price. You can read more about the pectoral here.

I am in awe of the detail and incredibly skilled craftsmanship of this object that is so very old. I've been researching metalwork in the Iron Age and discovered that blowpipes were used for soldering as early as 2500 BC.

The Hermitage has this wonderful hair comb, also 4th century BC, read more here. It certainly inspires me!

Please visit these team members to read about their inspirations:

Andes Cruz
Lisa Hopkins Design
Jewelry by Natsuko
Beth Cyr

ArtJewel Designs
Abhaya Fibers
Bella-Bijou Jewellery
Alice Istanbul
Susan Moloney
Lunasa Designs Jewelry
Nancy Dale
Delias Thompson


  1. Think of the time this was made. What was the state of their technology? What about magnification....their fuels.....their thing is certain...the people who made this loved their craft...and were essentially no different than us in every way that counts. Work like this is why I often hold back from thinking I 'need' this newest tool, or that new innovation....What I need to do is to study the forms found in nature and learn the ways of the metals I work. A master artisan or team of artisans working under a master produced this. We are fortunate today if one in ten thousand of todays 'masters' could execute such a wonder as this....even with all our technological advances. Work like this is why being called a 'master' by anyone evokes a quick and honest retort from me...."Thank you so much.....but I am no master."

  2. Very well said, Scott! I couldn't agree more, although I do find your work incredibly masterful.

  3. Wow, that is unbelievable craftsmanship right there. I loved Scott's comment.

  4. Agree, and with Scott too. it is fantastical to see what was created way back when and knowing with what, when we know what tools we need, and maybe we don't even get close...

  5. Love that you presented this powerful historical perspective on inspiration, Tomi! I certainly believe that great progress doesn't come without some knowledge of the creative work that came before us.

    We stand on the shoulders of giants...humbling, huh?! What a fabulous inspiration piece you have shown us!

  6. Just had to return for another admiring look. This piece has been on my mind all day. The exquisite detail is so remarkable that it's almost unbelievable!!!


  7. What great pieces here, Tomi. Totally agree with Scott's comment. Another thing they (artisans and masters in those days) have that we don't - time. It seems like we are always in a hurry and that there are so many distractions around us. Imagine if we can put more time in our work, we can do better (at least slightly better). :)

  8. Glorious!!! I am not surprised at your inspiration - these pieces are so wonderful. (I saved a pic because it inspired me, as well!!) Your work is an inspiration to me, you have the most individual and creative art!! I LOVE your new Prometheus ring!!!!!!!!!!!!