- Tara Brooch
The Tara Brooch is considered one of the most important extant artifacts of early Christian-era Irish
Insular art, and is displayed in the National Museum of Irelandin Dublin. [ [http://www.courses.psu.edu/art_h/art_h302_cxz3/images/Part1/tara.jpgTara Brooch] ]
Created in about 700 CE, the seven-inch long
broochis composed primarily of silver gilt and is embellished with intricate abstract decoration (termed "Irish interlace" or Celtic knotwork) both front and back. The beads contain images of over 20 wolves' heads and dragons' faces.
The design, the techniques of workmanship (including
filigreeand inlaying) and the gold, silver, copper, amberand glassare all of high quality, and exemplify the advanced state of goldsmithing in Ireland in the seventh century. The brooch is made in the pseudo- penannularstyle, meaning it was not meant to be a brooch to hold clothing, but to be decorative. Like most brooches of the period, it contains neither Christian nor pagan religious motifs, and was made for a wealthy patron, almost certainly male, who wanted a personal expression of status. It is probably the most spectacular, and one of the best preserved, of several dozen high-status brooches found in the British Isles, but mostly in Ireland. Although similar in style, each has a completely individual design in detail. Precious metals are used, but only semiprecious stones.
Although the brooch is named after the
Hill of Tara, seat of the mythological High Kings of Ireland, the Tara Brooch in fact has no known connection to either the Hill of Tara or the High Kings of Ireland. The brooch was found in August 1850 on the beach at Bettystown, near Laytown, County Meath. The finder, a peasant woman (or her two sons), claimed to have found it in a box buried in the sand, though many think it was in fact found inland and she claimed it was found at the beach in order to avoid legal issues with the owner of the land. It was then sold to an antiques dealer who saw its value and who renamed it the "Tara Brooch" to make it more appealing. [Accounts of the brooch's origins and discovery vary - see [http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/brooches/tara.html Exhibition image and decription] , also Lynch, Michelle, [http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007-01-25/goods_travel.php "Delicate Irish Treasure"] in "NOW" magazine, January 25-31, 2007, V. 26 N. 21, and Orpen, Elizabeth, [http://www.farlang.com/gemstones/orpen-stories-precious-stones/page_256 "The Tara Brooch and the Shrine of St. Patrick's Bell"] in "Stories about Famous Stones"]
At the end of the 19th century the revival of Irish culture drew inspiration from the discovery of treasures such as the Tara Brooch and the
*Boltin, Lee, ed.: "Treasures of Early Irish Art, 1500 B.C. to 1500 A.D.: From the Collections of the National Museum of Ireland, Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College, Dublin",
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977, ISBN 0-8709-9164-7.
*Susan Youngs (ed), "The Work of Angels", Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th-9th centuries AD", 1989, British Museum Press, London, ISBN 0714105546
* [http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/brooches/tara.html Exhibition image and decription]
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