Kallos Gallery

Hellenistic Armlet With Herakles Knot

30th October 2016 by kallos

Worked in carefully hammered gold-sheet; embellished with intricately delicate, beaded-wire filigree imitating acanthus leaves, palmettes, and lotus buds; inscribed at the centre with doves, a lion, and a piping Pan – this gold armlet is an outstanding example of Hellenistic craftsmanship.

hellenistic armlet kallos gallery.

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It dates from the Late Fourth to Early Third Century BC and has a diameter of 9.84cm, while the width of the hoop is 2.71cm. It weighs 77.5g

At its centre, the armlet features a cleverly wrought Herakles knot. This potent symbol is believed to have originated from Egypt, where its history as an amulet dates from the beginning of the second millennium BC. The Greeks associated the amulet with the protective and sexual prowess of their greatest hero, Herakles.

herakles knot.

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The Herakles knot became a well-loved subject for jewellery pieces throughout the Greek world because of its multiple connotations of fortune, power, fertility, healing, and protection from evil. Herakles knots can be seen on Hellenistic necklaces, diadems, finger rings, and thighbands, and on the grandest of ancient Greek bracelets, such as this one, made to encircle the upper arms of Greece’s female elite.

The armlet would make a wonderful gift for somebody who might enjoy wearing an object of such great beauty, but who might also appreciate the history of the armlet, and its associations with Herakles.

Protection & Great Fortune

Herakles was adopted as a divine protector and ancestral god of the Macedonian royal house and the use of the knot motif in jewellery was therefore natural and appropriate, evoking the hero’s protection.

Furthermore, after the reigns of Philip II and his son Alexander III (‘the Great’), the use of motifs from Herakles’ iconography became especially popular – perhaps in the hope of procuring for the wearer of such objects some of Alexander’s great fortune.

Lorne Thyssen founder of Kallos Gallery says, “I acquired this exquisite armlet some years ago. It immediately caught my eye and is virtually unique. There is one with a similar construction in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I noted that this one is superior.”

You can view the armlet without prior appointment at our Gallery in Davies Street.

If you are unable to visit we can send you more details, with photographs and a longer description. Please phone or email Beth Morrow for a copy.

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