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Stratum plus. 2001-2002. №5

S. S. Ryabtseva (St.-Petersburg, Russia, – Kishinev, Moldova)

The Early Russian Female Full Head Dresses (Diadems and Forehead Dresses)

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Pages: 334-354

The article examines diadems and crowns which were part of full and ceremonial head dress. The tradition to wear diadems was borrowed from Byzantium. If just the ritual of crowning knyazes to princedom and later to kingdom was quite a late development in Russia, then the first paintings of early Russian ruler dressed like a Byzantine Emperor belong to the time of Vladimir the Saint.
At present, the territory of the Eastern Europe yielded just three finds of whole diadems (one of them is likely to have been used as a frame for an icon rather than a head dress) and eight finds of fragments of diadems. Close analogues to the early Russian diadems with the images of a flight of Alexander the Great and Dejesus are a gold diadem with enamelled picture of Alexander’s Ascension from Preslav (second half of X c.) and the so-called crown of Constantine Monomach (middle XI c.), decorated by Dejesus. While these diadems were made by Byzantine masters, then an example of West-European work performed by masters familiar with Byzantine enamel tradition can be displayed by the crown of Konrad II. The main of this head dress seems to have been made in the second fourth of XI c., with some later work done in the first half of XIII c.
An analysis of diverse artistic work like monumental painting, icon painting and small plastic work revealed that it was quite a frequent practice to depict women wearing notched diadems-crowns, which is a strong evidence to the fact that diadems in Russia could be part not only of male but also of female full dress.
Along with ceremonial diadems there was another female head dress – a forehead crown made of lamellate or three-bead ears with end plates decorated with enamels, and in several cases with filigree, globules and precious stones. The work analyses 26 locations of details of such head dresses. Forehead crowns made of gold lamellate ears are mainly typical of Kiev and its closest suburbs, while bead-forehead crowns, which can be made of gold but in fact silver ones are more frequent, find their biggest concentration in Russia’s north-east. Forehead crowns of these two types are never found in the same complex and were probably parts of different dresses.


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