Archäologische Staatssammlung München


In early Celtic art usually only heads were depicted. The strength of a creature is concentrated in the head. Apart from more naturalistic depictions of humans and animals, fantastical or hybrid creatures were typical. They were moulded three-dimensionally and appear singly or in groups. They decorated objects of daily use, such as weapons, metallic vessels and jewellery, including in particular fibulas. Such figurative brooches for garments are extraordinarily diverse and designed with the greatest imagination. Each of them is a unique piece, since they were cast in a lost-mould technique. Numerous exemplars display a duck-shaped bird’s head, the so-called mask fibulas are less frequent. These were – as in the case of other objects with masks as their decoration – reserved exclusively for members of the upper strata of society. The bronze mask fibula from the fortifications on the Kleine Knetzberg is a particularly important example. In the frontal view, one recognises two identically designed humanoid faces with large, round eyes, chubby cheeks and with a chin beard, which in the case of the mask at the foot of the fibula is pointed and rolled up. Oddly enough, when looking at the humanoid mask from the side, it changes into the head of a bird of prey. Therefore, the mask represents a type of picture puzzle characteristic for Celtic art.


Archäologische Staatssammlung München

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