Openwork Phalera
Langenhain, Germany
4th c. BCE
Wiesbaden Museum

Simple circles provide the structure for this phalera while vegetal designs add complexity and intrigue. Two concentric open circles around a central filled circle allow for two bands of design in between. The outer, wider band is divided into quarter sections by open circles. Between these quarter-markers are series of three vegetal designs. An inner core-bloom is surrounded by protective outer leaves, perhaps. After staring at the images for a minute or two, however, their stylized blossom design recedes and the negative space dominates. The pattern now looks like a series of spooky faces, their features defined in the negative space. A series of eight of these bloom-faces fill the smaller, inner band of design. The pattern is flipped to mirror the outer band. This positioning implies interaction of sorts between the two series of faces.

It takes close examination to see the details that make this phalera asymmetric. The inner band is actually divided into two sections of four designs by teardrops. Moving one bloom-head counterclockwise from each of the teardrops a half-moon arc is added. The arc, moving in a clockwise direction, adds subtle yet elemental movement to the piece.

Mandera, 9


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