Unknown artist, Etruscan
Pin (fibula), 7th century BCE
9.8 cm (3 7/8 inches) (length)
Museum Appropriation Fund 30.051
This fibula (pin), used for closing or securing garments, is a masterpiece of ancient gold-working. Tiny animals and figures, mythical and real, cover the pin. They were formed using tiny beads of gold (a process called granulation) fashioned in a fluid, curving style reminiscent of pottery of the seventh century BCE, when the Etruscans reached the height of their technical virtuosity in granulation. In the center of the decoration is a figure common in Etruscan art: the ‘master of the beasts,’ a winged man with two faces. The figure originated in the Near East and became especially prominent in Etruscan art during this period.