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Greek Geometric Bronze Bird Stamp Seal
New York | Seals & Gems
Date:  8th Century BC
Culture:  Geometric Greek
Category:  Seals & Gems
Medium:  Bronze
Dimension: H: 5.40 cm
Price: $7,000.00
Provenance: Ex-European private collection, 2005
Serial No: 18309

A water-bird with a short straight beak, projecting eyes and a split tail perches on a columnar support rising from a square plinth. Parallel rows of straight lines are incised on the bird’s neck, tail, base of the beak, and the columnar support; two parallel lines are incised around the top edge of the plinth. A transverse hole for suspension perforates the bird’s head near the eye. This small-scale Geometric sculpture is constructed to be used as a stamp seal: the underside of the plinth is decorated with cross design in high relief.
A great variety of bronze birds from the Geometric Period encompass many types, and as favorite ornaments their significance may range from decorative to symbolic. Typically, their form is sleek and streamlined – the bird’s wings are never portrayed – which preserves the striking geometric appearance of these animals. For water-birds in particular, their association with this life-giving element has religious connotations, especially if they are considered as personifications of water, hence fertility. The water-bird is a frequent attribute of goddesses, and bronze versions may have functioned as votive offerings, or for use as a decorative motif on votive objects.
This belongs to a widespread, and ultimately related, family of bronze bird pendants popular in Hallstatt, Caucasian, Villanovan, and Greek cultures. For bronze bird pendants, their various contexts in a broad range of cultures, use as personal adornment, and varied find-spots in sanctuaries or graves, all contribute to a cautious interpretation regarding their exact significance in the culture of Geometric Greece.