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Buckle with plaque

Origin / Date Visigothic Spain, 1st half 6th century
Material Copper alloy, glass and mother-of-pearl, traces of gilding
Dimensions 135 x 75mm
Availability Sold


The tongue terminating in a stylized animal head, its base adorned with a prominent dark blue cabochon incised with an ‘x’, the buckle oval in shape.
The plaque, characterised by dogtooth patterns around a central square inlay, also prominently features the ‘X” both as the principle of quartering this central square, set with blue glass, and as the pattern that is continued in the diagonal dogtooth cloisons running from there to the corners.

A number of the glass and mother-of-pearl fills repaired or renewed with possible alteration of some cloisons, especially around the central square. Some remains of original gilding. Further details available from Colin Bowles Ltd on request.


Despite the restorations, this buckle remains an impressive example of its type and one of the few with perhaps the original cabochon still in place.

It corresponds to Gisela Ripoll’s “type 3” buckles which she placed between 525 and 560 AD. Specifically, this pattern and also the size of the buckle correspond most closely to her illustration K. Bierbrauer thought these were worn by the female nobility as part of a leather strap to secure a tunic rather than mantle.

The “X” is also found engraved on the bronze base of the tongues of both nos 18 and 19 in the catalogue: The Art of Medieval Spain, A.D. 500–1200 (MET, NY 1993), from respectively, Shelby White and Leon Levy collection and Ariadne Galleries, which are also of similar size and glass type.

One with a similar dogstooth or zig-zag pattern round the outside is Madrid, MAN, inv, 61248, found in Grave 3 of the Necrópolis de Herrera de Pisuerga, Boedo-Ojeda (comarca), in Palencia. It is also one of the largest of this type (16cm). A smaller one with similar decoration is Cleveland Museum of Art no. 2007.228.


Ex collection Luis Elvira, Oropesa del Mar.


The Art of Medieval Spain, A.D. 500–1200. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY 1993.

Ripoll López, Gisela. “Materiales funerarios de la Hispania visigoda: problemas de cronología y tipología”.
In: Gallo-Romains, Wisigoths et Francs en Aquitaine, Septimanie et Espagne p. 111-132. 1991.

Ripoll López, Gisela. ‘Reflexiones sobre arqueología funeraria, artesanos y producción artística de la Hispania visigoda’
In: Archeologia e arte nella Spagna tardoromana, visigota e mozarabica p. 343-373. 1987.

V. Bierbrauer, Die ostgotischen Grab- und Schatzfunde in Italien, Spoleto 1975


TEFAF Maastricht.

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