Bow Fibula


German or northern French
Early medieval
first half of 6th century


8.3 x 4.4 cm (3 1/4 x 1 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Silver (92.8% silver, 5.1% copper, 1.3% gold, .8% lead) with niello and gilding

Not On View





Fibula with semicircular head capped by three integral knobs, arched bow, and rounded foot; on the reverse, two loops and a catch for the pin. Bow and foot of equal width. Cast in one piece, engraved, punched, nielloed, and gilded. The head is decorated with a pair of chip-carved S-spirals surrounded by an outer frame with triangles punched and nielloed. The digits are unadorned except for narrow bands marked by two rows of tiny punched dots where they meet the head. A narrow band, again with a double row of tiny dots, divides the head from the arched bow, which has three vertical columns of two S-spirals arranged one on top of the other. The foot has larger chip-carved triangles on the outside and smaller punched triangles with niello on the inside. Its engraving represents a frontal animal head with nielloed triangles along the nose and brow.


Until 1967, Hugo Oelze (d. 1967), Amsterdam; 1967, by inheritance to his brother, Dr. F. W. Oelze, Germany [see note 1]; 1968, sold by Dr. Oelze to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 13, 1968)

[1] See MFA curatorial recommendation letter of March 13, 1968 by Hanns Swarzenski.

Credit Line

Otis Norcross Fund