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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2012 12:16 am    Post subject: Merovingian-Vendel Finnish pommel?         Reply with quote

I have just come across this rather nice artifact which appears to be a pommel, however as my understanding of the Finnish language is non exsistant I wondered if any fellow forumites might be able to provide some information on this artifact.
http://www.helsinki.fi/arkeologia/rautaesine/...nnuppi.htm

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Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Pekka Pasanen




Location: Finland
Joined: 29 May 2004

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2012 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's from Kirmukarmu burial site in Vesilahti. End of 6th century/early 7th century.
Gilded bronze, probably swedish origin. It's a pommel allright.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2012 6:34 am    Post subject: Pommel         Reply with quote

Thanks Pekka

Martin Rundkvists was good enough to share a paper which included this example and some other ursine pommels from the same period. It is a beauty.

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2012 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really interesting piece!

In fact, I can't think of other examples that come close to this.

It's seems to depict an animal, but other animal-shaped pommel caps (Tournai, Blucina etc.) are much lower and are symmetrical.

And they don't have people's faces looking out of the fur... Anybody have an idea what that may mean?
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E. Storesund





Joined: 10 Jan 2011

Posts: 101

PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2012 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Really interesting piece!

In fact, I can't think of other examples that come close to this.

It's seems to depict an animal, but other animal-shaped pommel caps (Tournai, Blucina etc.) are much lower and are symmetrical.

And they don't have people's faces looking out of the fur... Anybody have an idea what that may mean?


Just throwing throwing my cents on the subject, even though they aren't directly related. Here are some thoughts regarding beasts and men, magic and warfare:
Ancient scandinavian and pre-christian germanic culture has a fascination with the unnatural and ambiguous, and the merging of opposites that is evident both in art and poetry, mythology etc. (like the "nykrat" style of skaldic poetry deemed bad-taste after the introduction of Christian ideals of clarity, which is also mirrored both in art and poetry). That things that are not alike may be bent into a common category.
Consider concepts of shapeshifting for instance, where certain men have the potential to transgress their nature and become beasts in a liminal phase between culture and nature. What sense this would make in such a context I don't know, but such power has both attracted and repelled.

In Fenno-Scandinavian traditions at least, there is the conception of the bear as somewhat of a cousin of man, who may also be a guardian of the natural order of things. Here the bear also has sorcerous connotations to shapeshifting etc.

There IS of course a very interesting scene from Hrólfs saga kraka, chapter 50, where Bödvarr Bjarki [bjarki meaning "little bear" fights in bear-form. The saga is very late, but contains some potentially ancient stuff. There must have been a very large oral tradition connected to Hrólf Kraki. My personal translation below:

Quote:

Hjörvard and his men saw then, that a great bear fared before king Hrólf's men, closest to where the king was. He singlehandedly kills more men with his paws than five of the king's retainers combined. Chops and ranged weapons bounce off him, and he breaks under his weight both men and horses of king Hjörvard's army, and crushes with his teeth anything close to him. Now, Hjalti looks around and sees not his comrade Bödvar, and spote to king Hrólf: "How can this be that Bödvar hides himself so, not standing by the king? Such a warrior we thought him to be, and how often he proved himself in the past!"
King Hrólf says: "He is where he is of the best help to us, if his will is free. Stick to your own honour and progress and talk no more ill of him, for no man is is equal - still, this is no instult to your reputation, for you are all the stoutest of warriors.
Now Hjalti hastens home to the King's estate where he sees Bödvar sitting there instead of joining them. Hjalti said: "How long should we await the famed warrior, for it a great dishonour, that you don't stand on your sound feet and prove the might of your arms, as strong as those of a tame bear. Arise Bödvarr little-bear, my superior, or I shall have to burn the house down - and you with it - for this brings terrible shame such a warrior as you are, that the king should risk his neck for us, and you ruin the reputation you have had 'till now." Bödvarr stood then up and blew out as he said "You need not scare me Hjalti, for still I am not afraid, and now I am ready to leave. When I was young I fled neither fire nor iron [... lots of boasting about his deeds in the past] but still I believe that we are subject to something stranger than we have ever experienced before. You haven't been as much of a help to the king as you like to believe, for victory was almost certain. But you did this more out of ignorance than unwillingness to help the king, and no other of his warriors, except for the king himself could have woken me like this without getting killed. And now things shall go as they will, for no advice will be of help. But I say to you truthfully that now the help I can provide the king is much less than it was before you awoke me.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 12:08 am    Post subject: pommel         Reply with quote

Here is the link to Martin's paper which also displays a couple of other ursine pommels, and interestingly another bear spear other then the Vendel XII.

http://fornvannen.se/pdf/2000talet/2005_101.pdf

There are other pdf's available online regarding Mr. Storesund's comments.

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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E. Storesund





Joined: 10 Jan 2011

Posts: 101

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 12:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Huggins wrote:
Here is the link to Martin's paper which also displays a couple of other ursine pommels, and interestingly another bear spear other then the Vendel XII.

http://fornvannen.se/pdf/2000talet/2005_101.pdf

There are other pdf's available online regarding Mr. Storesund's comments.

best
Dave


Some rather handsome weapon-furniture there, Dave.

Clive Tolley wrote an article called "Hrólfs saga kraka and Sámi bear rites", which was published in Saga-Book vol. 31 (http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Saga-Book%20XXXI.pdf). It makes a few interesting points on the matter, but I think he fails to explain how this influence should be expected. Our information about Sámi religion and cult was often delivered through interrogation, and the Sámi were in general rather sceptical to let germanic Scandinavians, as outsiders, in on their native non-Christian customs.

These customs must in many regards have seemed rather esoteric to the christianised Norse. While Tolley claims no proof of this tradition has survived, suggesting that motifs of secretive Sámi bear rites made their way into icelandic narrative at such a stage sounds strange to me. I find it more intuitive to consider it a literary remnant of a partly common tradition, perhaps as seems to be the case with seiđr, to use one example.

Given the fact that no such beasts ever held residence on Iceland, it only makes sense that such a tradition would be underrepresented in the sources. The fact that wild land mammals occur like this in icelandic tradition at all is interesting.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2012 3:29 am    Post subject: Pommel         Reply with quote

Quote:
These customs must in many regards have seemed rather esoteric to the christianised Norse. While Tolley claims no proof of this tradition has survived, suggesting that motifs of secretive Sámi bear rites made their way into icelandic narrative at such a stage sounds strange to me. I find it more intuitive to consider it a literary remnant of a partly common tradition, perhaps as seems to be the case with seiđr, to use one example.


I would agree. A belief in shape-shifting holds amongst many indo-european cultures at various times in various locations as much as it does worldwide. In a post conversion scandinavian world it is perhaps not suprising that these warriors become marginalised in society and are often potrayed as thugs and bullies.

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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