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Gold openwork hairnet with a bust of Artemis on its medallion

Dimensions: total diam. 0.23m, diam. of med. 0.114m
Provenance: part of the so-called "Hoard of Karpenissi". Donation of Helen Stathatos
Date: 3rd cent. BC
Exhibition Location: Room 42, Case 26, no. 3 (inv. no. 369)

he work was part of a group, a so-called 'hoard', of 44 jewels which appeared on the antiquities market of Athens in 1929. They come from Thessaly, although it is not known how exactly they were found. According to one statement, they were found in a bronze vase near Halmyros in Magnesia, whilst according to others they were discovered in the area of Lamia and Lianokladi, in central Greece. Other individuals maintained that they were uncovered in Domokos, whereas the antiquarian who sold 35 antiquities to Helen Stathatos and nine to the Benaki Museum assured her that the jewelry was discovered near Karpenisi

Our object is one of the four hairnets of the hoard which bear a bust of Artemis (one of them being in the Benaki Museum) or Aphrodite. The bust is executed in fine repousse and designed according to the principles of monumental sculpture. Especially expressive, it represents Artemis, the goddess of hunting, protectress of children and guardian in bringing maidens to the stage of motherhood, with a quiver and animal skin over her shoulder. A special bow ('Herakles' knot') ties her hair above her parting. Both the movement of the head in the opposite direction to that of the body and the billowing curls behind the neck add realism to her pose. Concentric bands with decorative motifs encircle the bust. These, in order, are: leaves, a cyma with rosettes between ovolos, palmettes flanked by inlaid red semiprecious stones and rosettes with green paste in wave-shaped sections formed by ivy tendrils, and banded branches. Beaded wires separate the bands. At the edge of the medallion, the net radiates to form triangular and rhomboid sections. Circular red stones distinguish the 16 places where the single loop-in-loop chain is attached to the rear plate of the medallion. Tiny discs with female bust, rosettes and rings ornament the other corners of the sections. The net suggests that object was a hairnet for a well-to-do lady. It may be the kekryphallos, an ornament worn on the head mentioned in ancient sources.

Bibliography: P. Amandry, 'Collection Helene Stathatos. Les bijoux antiques',Strassbourg 1953, pages 100-104 pl. XXXVI- XXXVII.

Position in the museum