The Celts in central Europe have been referred to as the Boii who lived in oppida near the Danube where they were surrounded by the contexts of many different cultures. During the fifth century, a new style began to emerge consisting of vegetal patterning and geometric ornament. It has long been thought that this style first emerged from central Czechoslovakia, the land of the Boii (Megaw, J.V.S.,115). This style is referred to as the "Plastic Style" or "Disney Style" and describes a variety of objects cast in bronze. The forms appear more three-dimensional than earlier incised works and show off the ability of the artisan to sculpt high relief decorative objects. A highpoint of this "plastic" style is marked by numerous anklets found in flat graves ranging from Southern Germany, Bavaria, and Moravia to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The majority of these anklets were found in the flat graves of Moravia and Bohemia, western Bavaria and eastern Hungary (115). All of the anklets are dated to the third century BCE. These anklets are large and three dimensional, cast of bronze, and span diameters as large as 13.7 centimeters wide. The anklets have usually been found in pairs around the ankles of the deceased accompanied by other bodily ornament. In some cases there is only one surviving anklet, such as the case with the Rajrad anklet, but the majority of surviving anklet pairs suggests that the anklets were meant to be worn together as an ensemble. The particular anklets surveyed here are made of six to seven cast mounds joined together with mortise and tenon closure so that the anklets hinge together. The cast mounds are bulky and measure around two to three centimeters in height. The anklets usually appear oblong in their overall shape. The pairs are not always identical as demonstrated by the Klettham Anklets. Here, the amount of cast mounds hinging together is different. In one anklet, the hinging portion is made up of two mounds, while in the second anklet the hinged portion is made up of three mounds. The dominating themes depicted on the mounds are curvilinear forms and raised studs, consisting of variations of the S-scroll and the triskele, the three-armed whirligig. These forms suggest motion as they have in earlier two-dimensional works. Only here, forms such as the triskele appear three-dimensional and immense which adds to the effect that the medallion is in motion and spinning. The anklets in their entirety are knobby, bulbous and massive in their overall outward appearance. The inside of the mounds is hollow and deep, showing off the adept craftsmanship of the artisan.
The purpose and function of the anklets appears decorative and ornamental, although there is little concrete information other than their find sites. Several authors have concluded that the anklets are associated solely with women, since they were found in what it thought to be the flat graves of women. As Witt, however, finds this problematic, "Most burials have been ‘sexed’ on the presence or absence of types of finds assumed to be associated with one sex or the other-- weapons for men, jewelry for women, etc...." Witt continues on the subject of mortuary finds, sex and gender, by exposing the fact that the actual sex of the buried within this context remains largely unexplored. With this dilemma in mind, the gender of the deceased remains ambiguous. Anthropological and scientific study will be pertinent to future explorations and findings in determining the probable biological sex of the deceased and applying these findings to reinterpret and assess past gravesites.
The anklets are particularly large compared to other finds across Europe. These third-century anklets are bulbous, and would have probably been uncomfortable to wear as the knobs of the ornament would have appeared to irritate and rub against the opposite ankle. Not only would the wearing of these anklets prove cumbersome and bulky, but they would also consist in a substantial amount of weight for someone to carry around. If worn together, it is also probable that the large, hollow and bronze fittings would clang together noisily. This loud clanging is not that hard to imagine if one takes the classical writings of Diodorus and Posidonius seriously (Chapman, 174-5). For reasons of comfort, it seems more likely that these large anklets had limited everyday relevance, and were reserved for ritual use or used primarily for funerary functions. The craftsmanship of the anklets is advanced and it is likely that the person wearing the anklets had some sort of elevated status or social standing, or that the anklets themselves symbolized such position for the eastern Celts. Another speculation about the anklets is that they may have somehow symbolized and embodied transcendental qualities for the passage of the deceased, largely from the movement the configurations invoke. The forms of the anklets embody the circular solar symbol in their overall shape, and also in their makeup with the circular mounds with raised circular portions. The anklets emphasize motion which is illustrated particularly well by the Straubing-Alburg anklets. The anklets also appear anthropomorphic with "eyes" illustrated by the Nürnberg anklets as well as others with their raised studs. The three-dimensional layering of forms growing from each other is highly organic, and appears to have symbolic significance even in the numerology of the forms- the number three from the triskele, the six or seven mounds, the number of protuberances. The anklets themselves would seem to have rotated around the ankle if they had actually been worn.
All of the anklets share an overall shape but are different in the way the mounds have been sculpted. The Klettham and Planany anklets both share a pyramidal shape of the mound while the Nürnberg is more rounded. The Nürnberg anklets are also different in the altogether design of the face of the mound. This different, flatter style suggests that there was more than one workshop creating the anklets, each artisan adding their own interpretation. The Straubing-Alburg anklets clearly show the innovation and complex shapes that artisans created and constructed. This style appears to have migrateded across Europe, judging from the bracelet from Tarn, (Megaw, J.V.S, 114) which shares the bulky size and geometric shape with the anklets further east in Europe. The Tarn bracelet is not made up of separate mounds, nor are its designs as three-dimensional as the eastern anklets, but it does include the triskele and S-scroll designs found on the anklets. The appearance of the Tarn bracelet infers that the Celts were traveling and in commerce with each other, sharing and adapting styles as they moved about Europe.
The pleasing forms of the innovative "plastic" anklets leave many open-ended questions for the viewer. What was the purpose of these anklets? Who wore them? Did they symbolize status or were they decorative, or both? These are questions that will never be known, although they can be speculated upon. It will be important in the future excavation of such flat graves, that the approach to such excavation is under scrutiny and always questions what seem to be the given facts, such as the sex of the buried based on grave goods. One thing that is for certain is that the artisan workshops within the areas surrounding the Danube produced fine craftsmen, skilled and innovative in the production of these one-of-a-kind anklets, so fleshy and modeled.