March-April 2013

Exhibition curators: mgr Barbara Kirschke, mgr Urszula Narożna-Szamałek

Bronze breastplates are among the most valuable artefacts of the Pomeranian culture. The beautiful, unique ornaments, possibly endowed with some special meaning, were  most often found in Eastern Pomerania and Wielkopolska. The best preserved specimens, presented at the Poznań Archaeological Museum, include breastplates from Mrowino, Poznań powiat, and Podróżna, Złotów powiat.

The breastplates consist of richly decorated rings and a joining clasp. Pendants – small bells – hanging from the last ring are additional elements. The geometric ornament of zigzags, groups of oblique, crosswise and alternate lines, of triangles, rhombs, herringbone pattern and semicircular strokes is placed symmetrically – from the centre outwards to the tapering ends. The fastening clasp is rectangular, sometimes slightly narrowed at the centre. It is decorated with numerous openings in the shape of triangles, circles and circular sectors  combining into an intricate open-work ornament. At the sides it has holes corresponding to the number of rings, usually from 10 to 17.

Breastplates were often presented on sepulchral vessels, particularly on face cinerary urns.  It can be a schematic drawing of surrounding strokes or spherical lines with several hanging pendants decorated with strokes and fastened with a clasp at the back – for example on the urns from Jabłkowo, Wągrowiec powiat, or Rzadkowo, Piła powiat. More rarely they have the form of surrounding high relief plastic strips fastened with a clasp, eg on the vessel from Ćiążeń, Słupca powiat.

Together with bracelets, breastplates are the most characteristic and imposing dress ornaments of the Pomeranian culture people, worn between the 4th and 2nd cent. BC.

After M. Kamińska, Napierśniki kultury pomorskiej i ich wyobrażenia na popielnicach twarzowych, Wiadomości Archeologiczne, vol.LII, 1991-1992, pp. 17-44.

Photography: P. Krakowski, B. Walkiewicz, K. Liberski; drawings: J. Kędelska