The Celts Themselves  

"We are told that the Gauls were valiant, quarrelsome, cruel, superstitious, and had the gift of pointed speech: their art is also full of contrasts.  It is attractive and repellent; it is far from primitiveness and simplicity, is refined in thought and technique; elaborate and clever; full of paradoxes, restless, puzzlingly ambiguous; rational and irrational; dark and uncanny - far from the lovable humanity and transparency of Greek art.  Yet, it is a real style, the first great contribution by the barbarians to European arts, the first great chapter in the everlasting mutual stock-taking of Southern, Northern, and Eastern forces in the life of Europe."

Paul Jacobsthal, Early Celtic Art

   
Contents:

curator: Kasey Ashton



Introduction

The human form plays an integral role in Classical art.  The same does not hold true, however, for the art of the La Tene period. This art, described by Paul Jacabsthal as "art without a genisis," has become synonymous with the term Celtic art.  Starting in the fifth century and continuing until the coming of the Romans, Celtic art came into its own, distinguished by certain typical characteristics.  Uninterested in a narrative art style, the Celts reduced everything from the human form to depictions of plants down to the most necessary and basic elements.  While Classical artists strove to create idealized, almost godlike, representations of the human form, the Celts were dicarding it and placing emphasis on the head alone.
To modern viewers, Celtic art seems ambiguous:  animals, vegetation, and human faces all incorporated without a readily-discernable storyline.  Nevertheless, art was central to their identity and a part of every artifact that they created.  In this way, it is nearly impossible to make a distinction between what was considered art and what was considered decoration.  The human head, with its variety of features and significances,  embellished nearly every one of their works and becomes representative of Celtic art as a whole.  
 
 

Classical Representations

When portraying the Celts in art, classical sculptors, working in bronze and marble, always placed them in the guise of the vanquished foe.  The most famous and impressive representations of this motif existed on the Pergamum acropolis.  The King of Pergamum, Attalus I, erected several large statue groups there to commemorate his victory over the Gauls in 230 BCE.  Those representations set the standard for future illustrations of the Gauls.  These tall, blue-eyed, blonde barbarians were the antitheses to everything the civilized ancients held dear. Their savagery was a direct contradiction to the classical ideals of philosophy, reason, and logic.  The Celts seemed terrifying in countenance, appearing in battle naked, some covered in body paint, screaming and raving so as to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. Therefore, classical representations of the Celts, like those of the Pergamene school, focus on their "savage nobility" but ultimate defeat in battle. The tufted hair, torc, heroic nudity, and oblong shield were universal attributes given to the Celts in art to make them easily identifiable figures. Every piece depicting a defeated barbarian tells a complete story through its body language and facial expressions.

The Chiramonti head, the only piece remaining from a larger sculpture within the Pergamum tradition, tells the incomplete story of a Gaul in mortal agony. Due to the fact that his body no longer exists, it is impossible to see what has caused his extreme distress, but, despite this, it is easy to imagine that he has been fatally wounded.  The suffering seems intensely etched into his features. His head is tilted back and his mouth is open, the corners down turned, as if he is moaning in anguish. Deep lines have been carved into his forehead and around his eyes and mouth, further emphasizing his torment. His beard adds yet another dimension to his story for it indicates that he is a Gaelic foot soldier and not of noble birth.

Unlike the Chiramonti head, the figures found in the fragmentary Etruscan Frieze, from Civita' Alba, are fully formed. Even though the piece, depicting two Gauls in the act of running away from an unknown enemy, is not entirely whole, its story is far more complete. Through body language and facial expressions consistent with the Pergamum style, the artist has created a work which perfectly captures the feeling of terror one feels when being chased by the enemy. As they run, the men are looking over their shoulders, the figure on the right (Figure 2) is also urging his companion along with his right arm. Their faces are masks of fear, their mouths opened and downturned as if they are screaming, Figure 1 has deep worry lines etched into his brow between his eyes, while Figure 2's eyebrows are drawn together.  The two figures are easily identified because they are portrayed with all of the traditional Celtic attributes:  long, wild hair, naked except for belts and cloaks, and carrying oblong shields. It is possible to assume that whatever Celtic invasion the frieze depicts ended in a complete and total route of the barbarians; the men are dropping their hard won loot as they run. Obviously, battle winnings have lost importance compared to their desire to escape alive.

The Dying Gaul perhaps best tells the story of the vanquished barbarian because the piece is a complete and self-contained work. In a larger-than-life statue, the fallen barbarian struggles to keep himself upright even though he has been mortally wounded. His nude figure presents the ideal of the noble savage, fearless in battle and unwilling to concede defeat. Supporting himself on his right arm, his left braced against his right thigh, he appears to be attempting to rise once again. His head hangs, not in resignation to his fate, but rather in concentration. His clean-shaven chin and drooping mustache indicate that he, unlike the Chiramonti Head, is of noble birth, possibly even a young chieftain (Stewart 205-6).  Like most classical representations, he possesses long, lyme-washed hair and a heavy torc.  A sense of grim determination emanates from him through his tense muscles and his furrowed brow. Even though the viewer can clearly see his fatal wound gushing blood, the barbarian refuses to relinquish his self-respect by dying in writhing agony. Rather he gives off an air of detachment; he has completely entered into himself, blocking out all outside stimuli in the effort to rise once more and continue fighting. Lying scattered around him, his traditionally Celtic sword and horn have been forgotten. In this noble portrayal, it is obvious that the Hellenistic Greeks held the barbarians in high esteem.
 

Significance of the Human Head

Though it is obvious that the head was of great importance to the ancient Celts, no immediate explanation exists to answer why. Anne Ross, author of Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts, believes that the Celts considered the head the center of one's spiritual being and the home of the soul. As such, it continued to possess life and magical powers after being severed, making it a very useful item to possess. Believing that it was imbued with supernatural powers, Celtic artists incorporated the head -- or more accurately, the face -- into nearly every piece of art that they created. The heads were meant to act as talismans to ward off the everyday evils of life.
The question concerning the identity of the faces also remains open to debate. Are they meant to depict individuals, as in Classical art, or are they meant to be  representations of the divine?  It is possible that the lack of expression on Celtic faces was meant to reflect the archetype of the divinity.  The countanence of the face can seem fierce and frightening rather than indifferent and might, therefore, depict the prowess of the warrior.  Unfortunately, no definite answer exists, only conjecture.
What is certain is that the Celts did not stop at merely representing the head in their art work.  Possessing an actual human head was far better then merely having it represented on a flagon or pottery. According to classical sources the Celtic warrior believed that it was his privilege to take the head of his fallen enemy. Killing a man and taking his head meant appropriating his life spirit and his qualities as a warrior. In this way, the combatant preserved his own power by absorbing his adversary's. The severed head also provided concrete proof of victory in battle and the identity of the victim. Possessing the head of one's enemy was not only a symbol of prestige but was also a badge of courage confirming the military prowess of the warrior.  

 ". . . when they depart from the battle they hang the heads of their enemies from the necks of their horses, and when they have brought them home, nail the spectacle to the entrance of their houses."
                                                                                                              Strabo, IV, 4.5

By embalming the heads of their most prestigious enemies in cedar-oil and keeping them locked in chests, the ancient Celts believed themselves able to ensure their safety.  Diodorus Siculus, possibly quoting Poseidonius, relates in book five of his History, how the Celts would display the heads to strangers and boast how they had turned down large sums of money in order to keep the heads in their families.  Described as being "exceedingly given to religious superstition" by Julius Caesar, the Celts were unwilling to part with their trophies for doing so would diminish personal power (Norton-Taylor 111) .  The desire to possess the severed heads of one's enemies might explain why Celtic warriors went into battle so recklessly and with such zeal.  This practice, the taking of an enemy's head, has since become known as The Cult of the Severed Head.
 

Celtic Sculpture

Unlike the representations found in classical works, Celtic sculptures lack the element of story.  Although the Celts incorporated many classical and oriental motifs into their own artistic tradition, narrative art was not among those.  Full length depictions of the human form are rare in Celtic art and, if they contain a story, it remains inaccessible to the modern viewer.  There is no attempt at pictoral realism either.  The figures do not seem intended to portray actual, living individuals because all features have been simplified to their most basic components.

The Bronze Brooch from Manetin-Hradek, Bohemia, follows that trend, by reducing the image to only those elements needed to identify him as human.  The main focus of the piece is his large, bulbous head with its bulging eyes and fringe bangs.  Unlike most brooches that only depict the face/head, this piece is a full-length, fully-clothed figure.

While the Bronze warrior does not relate a story, more can be inferred about him from his dress.  He wears a long-sleeved tunic, belted at the waist, and trousers, clothing which marks him as a foot soldier, as does his beard (Pollit 89).  He differs from classical representations of Celtic warriors in that he is not depicted nude. In addition, his long hair is not in spikey tufts, but is rather combed back from his face and neatly contained in a pony-tail at the nape of his neck.  Here again, the main focus of the piece is on his head.  He carries a Celtic oblong shield and wears a torc, familiar attributes to the modern viewer.

 The Romanized Gaul, however, has a story to tell.  Dressed in chain mail, it is immediately obvious that he is of noble birth.  He carries an oblong shield, wears a belt around his waist, a cloak around his shoulders, and a torc in typical celtic fashion.  His hair, on the other hand, is cut into a short military style more reminiscent of the Romans than the Celts.  He is also portrayed realistically as if he were an actual portait.  The story he tells is of Roman conquest and the slow disinigration of the celtic tradition as more and more foreign influences wer absorbed into the culture.  The Bronze Warrior, the epitome of Celtic scupture, is glaringly different from his contemporary.
 

Components of the Celtic Face

Celtic faces were not meant to depict a specific individual or even a living being. Heads are depicted from a strictly frontal viewpoint and, when done in the round, have a relatively shapeless profile. All facial features have been reduced to "a simplified number of protuberances" and any extraneous details such as cheekbones or wrinkles have been eliminated. The faces are expressionless and seem to have an

Eyes

The eyes are most commonly narrow; almond shaped, and placed at a slight slant or horizontally on the face.  However, the eyes can also appear large and circular, nearly bulging from their sockets to the extent that they take up nearly half of the cheeks.

Eyebrows

Of fundamental importance to the face are the eyebrows, which appear in variety of ways. In the most common representation, the eyebrows rise from the root of the nose in an S- curve over each eye to terminate in a spiral scroll at the temple.  In other depictions the eyebrows are etched into the face or they rise up, two dimensionally, and arch over the eyes like commas.  In the most extreme cases they are so exaggerated as to look like horns.

Nose

The nose is usually clumsy and triangular, resembling two sides of a three sided pyramid, and has little or no detail such as indentions for nostrils.

Mouth

The mouth has perhaps the greatest variety in shape and size.  It can remain in the background as an insignificant detail, separate the face into two halves, or be nearly obscured by facial hair.  The lips can be depicted as full and well molded, thin and small, or slightly parted revealing small beads representing teeth.

Ears

Most heads found in metalwork are ear less although some, like the gold face, do have ears on the sides of their heads on the same horizontal as their eyes.  On sculptures the ears are either cut into the surface of the stone or roughly molded.  When ears do appear they often take on the forms of spirals, leaves, even animal ears.

Facial Hair

Bearded faces in Celtic art are in the minority while mustaches and clean- countenances abound.  Whether the clean shaven faces are meant to represent women is still unknown.  Unless facial hair of some sort exists on the face, the sex of the piece is difficult to discern.  When beards are represented they vary in style from long and pointed to square and compact.  Mustaches are usually drooping, covering the mouth, but they can also be depicted with spiral scrolls at either end acting as the counterpart to eyebrow scrolls.

Hair

Relatively unimportant to the overall character and structure of the head, little space was left on a piece for depicting hair and at times was not even represented. Hair is represented by vertical strokes which begin from just above the eyebrows, creating a fringe, and lead over the top of the head. On some faces scalloped fringes of hair run across the forehead separating the fringe from the eyebrows.

Leaf Crown

Appearing repeatedly in both stone and metalwork, the comma headdress or leaf crown was a common symbol in Celtic art. The leaves cling to the outline of the head just below the ears or terminate beneath the chin. The gap between the two leaves at the top of the head could be filled with various objects, the most common of which was the lotus blossom.
 

The Celtic Head

One of the most common and reacurrent themes depicted in Celtic art is the human head. The motif has its roots in classical traditions, but, through abstraction and simplification, was transformed into a purely Celtic art form.  It appears on everything from jewellery to chariot fittings and can even stand alone as a separate entity.

The Ragstone head, discovered within a sacred enclosure in Msecke' Zehrovice, Bohemia, presents a very flat visage. The face is oval with a squared-off chin.  It offers one of the best examples of spiral-scroll eyebrows and mustaches as described in "The Components of the Celtic Face."  Depicted in the round, the head's profile is relatively shapeless; no protruding details, such as cheekbones, have been added to give it dimension.  Yet again, a story cannot be easily discerned from its features.

The same holds true for the Gold Face from Schwarzenbach, Germany.  The face contains almond-shaped eyes, scalloped fringes across the forehead, and veritcal strokes representing hair.  In this piece, the leaf crown in shown emerging from the side of the head just below the ears. The leaf crown, along with the facial features, are all typical of Cetic art.   One difference lies in the cheeks, which are uncharacteristically plump.  Could this be an actual portrait or did the artist merely get carried away?
 

Though the Linchpin does not have the plump cheeks of the Gold Face, it does have the characteristically Celtic leafcrown.  Since the face is earless, the crown follows the line of the face and curves outward.  The gap between the two leaves at the crown of the head is filled with a lotus blossom.  On the face, the eyes, eyebrows, and nose follow traditinal themes.  However, unlike many representations of the Celtic mouth, the Linchpin has a fully modeled mouth, with abnormally large lips.

 


Catalogue

Chiramonti Gaul
Pergamum, acropolis
230-220 BCE (Roman copy 1st c. BCE)
marble
35cm
Rome, Musei Vaticani

The piece is a marble copy, probably dating to the first century BCE, of a Hellenistic Bronze.  It was part of a larger statue group that was erected between 230 and 220 BCE on the acropolis at Pergamum celebrating the victory of Attalus' I against the Gauls in 230 BCE.

Once part of a larger statue, the head and partial chest of a Gaul have been restored in the form of a bust.  The face is that of an older Gaul and depicts overt and unrestrained suffering.  The head is tipped back and the mouth is open, the corners of the lips down turned as if in a groan of anguish.  The sculpture has a thick head of hair separated into rigid tufts, an unshaven beard, and the partial remains of a torc, all of which are typical devices used by classical artists to help viewers identify the subject as Celtic.

The short, rather scruffy, beard of the sculpture identifies him as being a foot solider and, therefore, a subordinate within the Gallic Army.  A clean shaven face, like that of the Dying Gaul, is an indicator of a higher social class.
Ernst Kunzl, in reconstructing the Peramon monuments, does not place the Chiramonti head on the long base along with the Dying Gaul and the Chieftain and his Wife.  Instead, Kunzl believes that the head belongs to the base dedicated to Epigenes, a general, and the Peraminian army.  He came to this conclusion when he noted that a piece was missing from the head of the sculpture.  He assumes that a hand was originally grasping the Gaul's hair or that a horse's hoof was striking it.  This is a logical conclusion due to the fact that the Pergamon soldiers, being smaller in stature compared to the Gauls, would have preferred to be depicted on horseback to seem more grandiose.

Etruscan Frieze
Civita' Alba, Marche
mid 2nd c. BCE

terracota
14 5/8''
Museo Archeologico, Bologna

The piece is a fragment from a larger frieze and depicts two naked males in the act of running from an unseen enemy.  As they run, the figures are looking back over their left shoulders, and their faces are masks of terror.  Their mouths are opened and downturned as if in the act of screaming.  Deep lines have been carved into their brows, between the eyes, and around their mouths to further emphasize thier fear.  The two men are easily recognized as Gauls by their wild hair, nudity, cloaks, and oblong shields.  The right hand figure, Figure 1, is urging his companion on with his right arm and his legs are spread wide in a loping gait.  Figure 2, his pelvis twisted, is depicted with his left leg crossing over his right as he runs.  In thier hurry both men are dropping objects, probably loot.  Between the legs of Figure 2 is a large round shield, not from the Celtic tradition, and beneath Figure 1 is a large vessel.

The entire frieze is believed to depict the Galations sacking Delphi in 279 BCE.  The barbarians are fleeing for their lives because Apollo, his sister, Artemis, and Athena have come to the rescue of the sanctuary.  From the looks of terror on the warriors' faces, it would be safe to assume that the Gods are presenting themselves in all their glory and that the barbarians fear for their lives.  Booty becomes unimportant as the invasion turns into a route.  Two female figures have been identified as Artemis and Athena by Maja Sprenger and Gilda Bartoloni, but, it appears that Apollo is no longer present due to the highly fragmentary state of the frieze.  Bernard Andreae, in an article, advances the theory that the frieze was modeled after the Gallic monuments erected by Attalus I, King of Pergamum.  The frieze depicts the Gauls in the familiar guise of the noble, but, vanquished foe.

Dying Gaul
Pergumum, acropolis
230-220 BCE (Roman copy 1st c. BCE)
Asia marble
93 cm
Museo Capitolino, Rome

The piece is a marble copy, probably dating to the first century BCE, of a Hellenistic Bronze.  It was part of a larger statue group that was erected between 230 and 220 BCE on the acropolis at Pergamum celebrating the victory of Attalus' I against the Gauls in 230 BCE.

The sculpture depicts a naked, male warrior who has fallen in battle.  He is sitting upright, his right arm supporting his body weight while his left hand is braced against his right leg.  The figure's torso is twisting to the left and his legs are stretched out to the right;  his left leg is bent as if he is about to rise and his right leg is curled beneath it.  He has been stabbed in the right side and the wound, spurting blood, is clearly visible and framed by his arms to draw the viewers attention to it.  The musculature of the body is carefully defined from the veings in his arms to a fold of skin across his stomach as he turns.  His facial expressions are as equally naturalistic.  His head hangs down, as if in concentration, and his features are stamped with determination.  The artist represents the warriors final agony, which he is unwilling to give in to, through fuurows at the brow and temple, and the set position of his mouth.

He is easliy identified as Celtic by his thick, tufted hair, heavy torc, and nudity.  He has fallen on top of his oblong shield and scattered around him, forgotten, are his short sword and horn, which is broken.  The warrior's noble birth is reflected in the fact that, except for a drooping mustache, he is clean-shaven (Stewart 205-6).
The base on the right side and the figure's right arm are modern restorations, as is his short sword.  It is probable that the piece did have a sword where it originally lay is unknown.  The position of the body appears to have been somewhat altered over the centuries.  A slot found beneath the plaster on his right arm indicates that the original was closer to the body and acted as a support.  This could mean that the warrior was fighting back as he fell to the ground.  The figure's head was once broken off, the fracture now concealed by his torc, and a hole on the left side of his neck indicates that the position of the head has changed.

Controversy exists concerning where the sculpture was placed on the acropolis of Pergamum.  One of the most well known reconstructions was done by Arnold Schrober, in 1936.  Schrober places the Dying Gaul among a scupture group containing the The Chieftian and his Wife on top of a large round base found on the acropolis.  The Chieftian is in the center of the base and is surrounded by scupltures along the same theme as the Dying Gaul.  Other scholars, however, especially Ernst Kunzl, feel that the round base is too high to have displayed the sculpture group.  At 2.48 meters, no one would be able to see many of the smaller, important details so integral to the piece such as the broken horn or the running dog pattern along the edge of the shield.  Kunzl, therefore, placed the scuplpture group on the long base, which is only one meter high.  Nineteen meters in length, the long base provides a much more spacious setting for the group and also offers room for the representations of the Pergemene soldiers, who would probably have been depicted on horseback to make them seem more imposing compared to the barbarians.

Ragstone Head
Msecke' Zehrovice (Bohemia)
2nd- 1st c. BCE

ragstone
23.5 cm
Prague, Narodni Muzeum

The Ragstone Head is that of a male and is often referred to as a Celtic deity due to being found within a sacred enclosure.  The head, terminating just below his torc, was probably once part of a larger statue and damage to the head itself is quite obvious.  The face has four large cracks running through it: two around the right eye, once across the left cheek, and the other across the right cheek.
The head has the typical attributes which characterize it as being Celtic:  the spiral scrolls of the eyebrows and drooping mustaches, the triangular nose, and the torc.  Unlike classical representations of the Celts, the head has a neat hairstyle which is combed back from his forehead and flows smoothly down the back of his head.  The figure's eyes are wide and staring, the face is a flat plan with no definition to indicate cheekbones and has a relatively shapeless profile.  The head has been reduced to its most important aspects making it recognizable as a human head but it is not meant to be a portrait.
The head may have been created to stand alone, carved and displayed like an actual head severed from a body, to be displayed within a sanctuary.

 

Bronze Warrior
St-Maur-en-Chausse
2nd- 1st c. BCE

bronze
Musee Departemental de l'Oise, Beauvais

The sculpture represents a Celtic soldier, in the round, nearly complete except for missing both of his feet.  Unlike classical representations of Celtic warriors the piece is not nude.  Instead, he is fully clothed wearing a tunic, belted at the waist, which reaches mid thigh, and trousers.  In his left hand he is carrying a long oblong shield and is wearing a torc around his neck, attributes which easily identify him as Celtic.  His arms are held out stiffly from his body, pointing downwards, and his right palm is facing outwards.  His legs are nearly the same length as his torso and have little definition beyond slightly raised bumps to indicate knees and a slight narrowing of the calf for ankles.
The head of the figure is the main focus of the piece.  Conceived from a strictly frontal viewpoint ,it too, like the Ragstone Head, has a relatively shapeless profile.  His ears are etched into the side of his head rather than being molded.  The face, reduced to its most basic elements, has inlaid eyes, a nose in the shape of a two sided pyramid, and a thin line to indicate the mouth.  According to J.J. Pollit, the fact that the sculpture has both a mustache and a beard indicates that the piece is meant to depict a Gaulish foot soldier.  Only the noble class, especially the chieftains, appear to have gone beardless in Celtic culture.  Once again, contrary to classical representations, the hair is combed back smoothly from the face and pulled into a neat pony-tail at the base of his neck.  A fringe of bangs falls straight across his forehead directly above his eyes.  In all, the piece depicts a warrior with little or no facial expression and not the raving barbarian popularly depicted in classical sources.

 

Romanized Gaul
Vacheres
1st c. BCE

stone
1.53m Collections des Musees de Province

The scuplture, broken off just below the knees, depicts a male warrior who is fully clothed.  He wears chain mail, belted at the waits, a cloak, and a torc.  Despite these Celic attributes, the sculpture in both style and dress seems to be anything but Celtic.  The figure is portrayed realistically, as if he were an actual individual.  His face in not planar or abstract as is usually the case in Celtic representations, his body is in proportion, and many small details have been added to give the sculpture life.  His body posture is relaxed, not rigid like the Bronze Warrior.  He leans his left arm lightly against his shield in an easy, self assured manner and his right arm is bent at the elbow.  His face is compelely free of facial hair and well molded with cheekbones, slight lines around the mouth and eyes, and even nostrils.  Cut in a short military style, the figure's hair does not coincide with classical representations of the barbarians nor with typical Celtic depictions of themselves.  Only the figures shield and torc act as true indicators that this figure is a true Celt.

The chain mail indicates that this figure is of nobel, or at least wealthy, birth.    Creating chain-mail was extremely labor intensive because each interlocking, iron ring was individually forged, making a mail shirt very expensive.  Only those in the highest social classes would probably have been able to afford it.  The chain-mail, clean-shaven face, and short, military style haircut  are all indicators that this individual is of high social status and that he has allowed himself to be Romanized.  He has left behind his barbarian status in favor of a more 'civilized' appearence.  As the Romans took over more and more Gaelic territory, Celtic and Roman traditions began to meld together, signiling the end of the La Tene period of art.

Bronze Brooch
Manetin-Hradek, Bohemia, grave 74
5th c. BCE

bronze
8.8 cm
Prague, Nardoni Muzeum

The face of the brooch is a full length representation of a human male done in the round.  The figure is fully clothed wearing pointe shoes, trousers, and a knee lenght jerkin.  Circular settings, meant for coral and amber inlay, are spread across the body forming various patterns.  There is one setting on each of his shoulders, four in the shape of a diamond on his chest, three forming a right-side-up triangle on his abdomen, two sideways triangles flanking a larger circle in the pelvic area, and an upside down triangle on each of his shoes.
The figure's face follows typical Celtic formulas.  The eyes are large and bulging, the eyebrows arch over the eyes resembling large commas, and the nose is a triangular wedge.  Beneath a full, drooping mustache, the mouth is little more than a thin line.  Little space ahs been left on the head for the depiction of hair, the only concession made has been to etch vertical strokes into the top of the head starting at the eyebrows and running down the back of the head.

 

Gold Face
Schwarzenbach
5th c. BCE

gold
3cm Kr. St. Wendel, Germany

The gold fragment depicts a human face with a leaf crown executed in repousse, a technique in which thin sheets of metal are gently hammered from the back to create protruding reliefs.  The face is frontal with the almond shaped eyes and wedge nose typical in Celtic facial representations.  The cleanshaven countenace has cherubic cheeks and straight hair in a fringe across the forehead.  Between the bangs and the eyes is a row fo continous scallops.  The ears, an unusual additon considering that many Celtic faces are earless, are on the same horizantal as the eyes.  The leaf crown, a common symbol in Celtic art, emerges just below the ears and nearly meets at the crown of the head.
The piece may have once been a part of a piece of jewelery:  two pieces, forming what might have been a band, may be seen at the top and bottom of the head.  Typical of Celtic faces, this piece is devoid of expression.  The overall mood of the piece is one of distance and impassivity, possibly reflecting the "archetype of the deity" (Green pg. 138).

 

LinchPin
Unterradleberg
5th c. BCE

iron and bronze
height unknown
Vienna, Naturrhistorisches

The Linchpin, a pin inserted through the end of an axletree to keep the wheel in place, is decorated with a large human head done in bronze, wearing a leafcrown.  The face is frontal and framed on both sides by the curling leaves of the crown.  Placed inbetween the leaves, at the top of the head, is a lotus blossum.  The facial features are large and dominate the head, especially the full and well molded lips.  Unlike many Celtic mouths, which tend to be much smaller and without discernable lips, this figure's mouth takes up the entire bottom region of the face and has both a full top and bottom lip.
The pin itself is wide and in poor shape.  The iron is pitted and rough and the pin appears to have been broken.  The face, however, is still in good shape without any marks to disfigure its planar surface.



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