Jewellery Art of Kyiv Russ in the 9th and 11th centuries. Research perspectives

The outlook study of the Nordic jewellery Hedebyu (Northern Germany) to compare them with jewellery period of Kyiv Russ at the same time (9-11 century). The question of irregional contacts between Scandinavia, Poland and Kyiv Russ in 9-11 century.

Рубрика Культура и искусство
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 01.02.2018
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Jewellery Art of Kyiv Russ in the 9th and 11th centuries. Research perspectives


The major effect on the development of early Eastern Slavs had relations with the most important political and cultural power of the late first millennium AD - Byzantium, the Empire of Romans. But this has first happened after the baptism of Prince Vladimir the Great AD 988. The acceptance of Christianity from Byzantium has changed the ancient course of life and opened way for the process of creation of the new civilization that the Kyiv Russ established in Eastern Europe. Before this, since mid-8th century AD and two centuries onward, one of the most dynamic elements operating in the multicultural Eastern Europe was the Norse one, Scandinavians, Swedes in the beginning and for the most of time, later Danes and Norwegians. They were creating networks of trading routes and settlements along such rivers like Volkhov, Volga and Dnieper, putting some people into dependency by taking from them tributes, and finally organizing political units from which princedom of Kiev was most important.

The major effect on the life of the Early Eastern Slavs was linked with the appearance of the trade centres on the Middle Dnieper River's lands. During the 7th-8th the goldsmiths from those settlements provided with their artworks the Slav tribes of the Middle Dnieper and of East Europe. In this period the jewellery art is influenced by the Byzantine culture and also by the South Baltic and the North Black Sea tribes.

My education provided me with knowledge concerning different people of Eastern Europe - Balts, Finno-Ugrians, Iranians, Turks like Khazars and Volga Bulgarians, but mainly about Slavonic people. The agrarian way of life and very old egalitarian structures of Slavonic societies made it impossible to establish advanced material culture typical of other contemporary people. That's why from the territories occupied by Slavs before the end of the 10th AD their material culture, with exception of pottery, is not well presented in archaeological finds. The lack of ornaments made of metals is a special case: almost all the jewellery is always of foreign origin, either Balt, Finnish, Norse or Nomadic.

The examples of the Early Slav art are known thanks to archaeological findings: utensils, weaponries, tools, clothes and jewellery articles. They were decorated with human and animal images, floral and geometric ornaments to protect from evil spirits, to help in life and at work.

The art of the Eastern Slavs with Iranian and Finno-Ugrian cultural influences became the base for the Kyiv Russ' art. The Russ borrowed motifs and techniques from Byzantine, Arabian and Norman countries. Articles by the Kyiv Russ' goldsmiths were in high mode during the 10-13 centuries in the Russ and other countries. Many decorations were brought in the Russ by the nomad tribes with military campaigns and as result of the cultural relation with Western Europe, Byzantium, Caucasus and Scandinavia. Some of the imported masterpieces became models for the Russ goldsmiths. From the East, Byzantium, Northern Europe also in the ancient city often moved masters who introduced new technologies and motives of decoration, teaching students from local artisans.

Prior to the advent of written Scandinavian history, the Danes and Swedes were launching raids and settlements Eastwards across the Baltic. The reason for these warlike activities was wealth in the form of amber and furs which were looted or taxed from the Finns, Wends, Slavs, and others living in the eastern Baltic region. Russ itself was not subject to the swords of the Scandinavians except for scattered raids until 850 AD. The first evidence of this movement eastwards into Russ is provided by the biography of Bishop Anskar of Hamburg written by his successor, Rimbert, who tells how the Swedish king Olaf of Uppsala sent an army to punish rebellious Kurlanders and opportunistic Danes at Apulia in Lithuania. Shortly thereafter, as recorded in the Russian Primary Chronicle, a Scandinavian tribe called Russ appears, and by 859 had begun taxing the Slavs and Finns. The usual pattern of Scandinavian advance was begun with armed traders, who having once detected a lucrative source of goods, established fortified centres with permanent warbands in residence to hold their gains. As these outposts prospered, settlement occurred around these garrisons, creating towns and trading cities. Once the lands and peoples in the vicinity were pacified, the process would be repeated further east. An excellent example of the start of such a pattern is to be found in Egils saga skallagnmssonar, where Egil and his brother Thorolfr travel to Kurland for both trade and raiding. Silver was the main lure which brought Scandinavian traders into Russ. In jewellery we can talk about the main Scandinavian influence in 10-11 century in style of jewellery and technical all decorations. There is not much Scandinavian jewellery in Kiev graves. Old fibulas appearance in two Kiev graves: not far from Lysa Gora on cemetery and three other fibulas were found besides archaeological context in Central Kiev on Starokyivska mound [13]. One of them from grave 112 was made from silver. This type of fibulas were made in Denmark and Norway how Nordic heritage fibula of wyspiarskiy type.

Trade through Russ was difficult in part because of hostile Slavic tribes, including the Kryvychi (near Smolensk), the Drehovychi and Drevlyany (west of the Dnipro), the Radymychi (east of the Dnipro), the Pechinigs, Poles and Magyars (on the lower Dnipro), and the Khazars (east of the Slavs). Traders had to be as much warriors as businessmen, for the Slavic tribes a significant hazard. As a result, bands of Scandinavians who travelled eastwards joined formally as companies, swearing oaths of mutual assistance, defence, and support. The term for such an oath in Old Norse is var, and these eastern adventurers became known as Varangians.

Working at the Museum of the Historical Treasures of Ukraine in Kiev I've had occasion to study material culture of many of mentioned people, the only material remains I never studied properly was that what was left by Norsemen living in the area around the Dnieper during 10th century AD. I decided to study more closely Norse archaeological finds but soon understood that I needed to study Viking-Age material in Scandinavia. My first choice became Schleswig in Germany as it was a part of Danish kingdom and great emporium Hedeby/Haithabu.

Hedeby became a principal marketplace because of its geographical location on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia (north-south), and between the Baltic and the North Sea (east-west). Between 8 and 10 century the growing economic power of the Vikings led to its dramatic expansion as a major trading center (Adam of Bremen, 11th century) reports that ships were sent from this por- tus maritimus to Slavic lands, to Sweden, Samland (Semlant) and even Greece.

At Hedeby, approximately 1350 graves have been excavated between 1812 and 1970.They are spread out over six cemeteries. The most important are two cemeteries with more than 300 graves inside, and approximately 1000 burials south of the semicircular rampart. When interpreting the graves one must keep in mind that probably less than10% of the original burials are known. None of the graveyards have been completely excavated. A large part of the investigated areas were already disturbed prior to excavation and standards have changed considerably since the beginning of excavations. Hedeby was the largest Danish Viking age emporium or proto-town, located close to the Carolingian and later Ottonian empires and the Slavonic region. According to written sources, Hedeby was inhabited by Danes, Saxons, Frisians and Slavs [11].

The transition to inhumation happens significantly earlier in Hedeby than in the rest of Denmark where this change is first seen in the late 9th century. This can probably be explained by Ansgars missionary attempts, which start around the year 830 in the trading places Hedeby, Ribe and Birka. During the 10th century more and more Christian influence can be observe burial customs. The construction of mounds ceases during the first half of the 10th century. The majority of burials with grave goods are dated from the middle 9th to the first half of the 10th century.

It will be very useful to investigate Hedeby's archaeological materials. And after it will be possible compare with Kyiv Russ' archaeological items at the same time, especially jewellery from graves and treasures. Quite interesting are the materials from the early Kyiv Russ' treasures, including 10-11 century. There is typical Scandinavian jewellery from National Museum of Ukrainian History and the Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine. Interesting for research are torques, made in technique of complex weaving. I want to try to find answer on the question: whether they were imported or Scandinavian masters made them in Kyiv Russ, or local craftsmen learned from foreigners ones and produced jewellery this type yourself using Scandinavian designs. If I will analyze Hedeby jewellery materials in this way, then I can make some conclusions. I would like to do, basing on the torques complex weaving; weaving bracelets with patch tips; braided chain with snake heads; fibulas and rings. Most part of items from Museum of historical treasures of Ukraine was made from silver. Based on the type of the metal, its quality (for silver), technology, decorative motives of the same items from Hedeby I will be able in some way to answer on these questions.

Research about filigree- and granulation-ornament in Scandinavian jewellery gives us many answers on problem questions. W. Duczko has made analyze 86 items of jewellery and other objects decorated with filigree and granulation work from Birka [4]. The large cemeteries at Hedeby produced 12 items of jewellery from seven graves and north of Hedeby, at Thumby-Bienebek, seven articles of jewellery have been recovered from five graves. Hoards are the most important source of information about Nordic filigree and granulation work during the Viking Period. Danish hoard contain 195 items of jewellery, 113 of them are Nordic and West European while 82 originate from the Slavonic area.

The European jewellers of the Viking Period continued to use both techniques. Granulation was one of the most popular techniques in Russ. A revival of both filigree and granulation work took place in Scandinavia during the Viking period. This renaissance is regarded as the result of foreign impulses originating in the Carolingian Empire and England. A certain amount of influence in this connection is attributed to Slavonic jewellery.

At the first, I already started to study about last research and investigate at Hedeby. And also it will be helpful for me to work with Vikings jewellery from that period. After general research I will try to choose archaeological materials, which help me in study Viking's influence in Kyiv Russ' jewellery. At the second, research motifs and ornaments on different archaeological items give to us important information about Scandinavians' stylistic influence. And after this work I will try to show, how it was used in Kyiv Russ' jewellery.

It will be very interesting investigate also, how jewellery were made in Kyiv Russ at the 10 - 11 century. We can talk about Scandinavian goldsmiths or about Russians, who learn from Scandinavian's masters. We know that the Vikings did not limit their eastern travels to Russia. Eventually Nordic traders found their way down the great river ways to discover riches beyond their dreams at journey's end. The perilous journey from Kiev down the river Dnieper led the Northerners to the Black Sea, and eventually to the greatest of the cities of the age: Constantinople. Traders from Scandinavia, from Novgorod, and all over the Russian settlements come together in Kiev to join the trading convoy.

There is no better place like Hedeby to give many sided introduction to the Viking-Age world of Scandinavians. Their jewellery represents very important source material from which it is possible to learn about technology, organization of craft, manifestations of social hierarchies, religious beliefs, magical thinking, continuity of old traditions, networks of contacts between various people. Danish jewellery art, which should be seen as most influential in Scandinavia, and even outside of it, was well studied by scholars, such as Duczko [5]; Eilbracht [6]; Kleingartner [14]; hoards are published by Wiechmann [23]. There are many other publications which I started to read at the library at Schleswig. Closeness to Denmark will be of great value for my future studies in Schleswig as I could visit Aarhus and Copenhagen and meet there scholars and study at museums.

And I will publicize results of my researched in future working in ZBSA (is one of the most important centre, which researches prestige and luxury jewellery and one of the most developed centres Scandinavian's investigations). Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” University of Kiel also is excellent platform for international contacts, making international project.

Sources and literature

1. Arbman H. Skandinavisches Handwerk in Russsland zur Wikingerzejt // Meddelanden fran Lunds Universites Historiska Museum 1959. 1960. P. 110-135.

2. Birkeland H. Nordens historie i middelalderen etter arabiske kilder. Oslo, 1954.

3. Chanenko B. Collection of Chanenko, 5. K., 1902.

4. Duczko W. Birka V. The filigree and granulation work of the Viking period. Stockholm, 1985.

5. Duczko W. Viking Russ. Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe, The Northern World, 12. Leiden-Boston, 2004.

6. Eilbracht H. Filigran und Granulationskunst im wikingischen Norden. Bonn, 1999.

7. Zeitschrift fur Archaologie des Mittelalters. Bh 11. Koln-Bonn, 2001.

8. Franklin S., Shepard J. The Emergence of Russ 750-1200. L. ; NY, 1996.

9. Hourts E. van. The Normans in Europe. Manchester Medieval Sources Series, Manchester. NY, 2000.

10. Jankuhn H. Haithabu. Eine germanische Stadt der Fruhzeit, Neumunster in Holstein, 1938.

11. Jansson I. 1994, Skandinavien, Baltikum och Russ' Under vikingatiden. Det 22. Nordiske historiker- mote Oslo 13-18. August 1994, Rapport I: Norden og Baltikum, Oslo, 1994. P. 5-25.

12. Jones G. A History of the Vikings. Oxford, 1984.

13. Каргер М.К. Древний Киев. M. ; Л., 1958, табл. XXX.

14. Kleingartner S. Der Pressmodelfund aus dem Hafen von Haithabu, Ausgrabungen in Haithabu, Bd.12. Neumunster, 2007.

15. Корзухина ГФ. Русские клады IX-XIII вв. M. ; Л., 1954.

16. Lindquist, S.-O. / ed. Society and Trade in the Baltic During the Viking Age. Acta Visbyensia 7. Visby: Gotlandsfornsal, 1985.

17. Page R.I. Chronicles of the Vikings, Records, Memorials and Myth. L., 1995.

18. Paulsen P. Der Goldschatz von Hiddensee. Leipzig, 1936.

19. Petersen J. Vikingetidens smykker. Stavanger, 1928.

20. Randsborg K. The Viking Age in Denmark. The Formation of a State. L., 1980.

21. Sawyer P.H. Kings and Vikings. L. ; NY, 1982.

22. Steinsland G. Det hellige bryllup og norron kongeideologi. Oslo, 1991.

23. Wiechmann R.Edelmetalldepots der Wikingerzeit in Schleswig-Holstein. Offa-Bucher 77, Neumunster, 1996.


The publication examines the outlook studies Nordic jewellery Hedebyu (Northern Germany) to compare them with jewellery period of Kyiv Russ at the same time (9-11 century). This research will provide an opportunity to reveal the broader question irregional contacts between Scandinavia, Poland and Kyiv Russ in 9-11 century.

Key words: jewellery, Scandinavia, Kyiv Russ.


jewellery kyiv russ hedebyu

Рудика Н.М Ювелірне мистецтво Київської Русі ІХ-ХІ століття. Перспективи досліджень

В даній публікації розглядаються перспективи дослідження скандинавських ювелірних виробів з Хедебу (Північна Німеччина) з точки зору їхнього порівняльного аналізу з ювелірними виробами періоду Київської Русі в цей самий час (ІХ-ХІ ст.). Завдяки пропонованому дослідженню можна буде ширше розкрити питання іррегіональних контактів поміж Скандинавією, Польщею та Київською Руссю в ІХ-ХІ ст.

Ключові слова: ювелірне мистецтво, Київська Русь, Скандинавія.


Рудыка Н.Н. Ювелирное искусство Киевской Руси 9-11 века. Перспективы исследования

В публикации рассматриваются перспективы исследования скандинавских ювелирных изделий с Хедебу (Северная Германия) для их сравнения с ювелирными изделиями периода Киевской Руси в то же время (ІХ-ХІ век). Предлагаемое исследование даст возможность более широко раскрыть вопрос иррегиональных контактов между Скандинавией, Польшей и Киевской Русью в ІХ-ХІ в.

Ключевые слова: ювелирное искусство, Киевская Русь, Скандинавия.

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