“Golden Butterflies” – Contributions to the ornaments of the Avar-Age shrouds and coffins — “Aranypillangók” – Adatok az avar kori halotti szemfedok és koporsók díszítéséhez


BALOGH C.

in: Beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam. Ünnepi kötet Tomka Péter 75. születésnapjára, T. Csécs, M. Takács, Editor, Xantus János Müzesi, Györ, pp.45-70, 2016

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Other Book
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: Xantus János Müzesi
  • City: Györ
  • Page Numbers: pp.45-70
  • Editors: T. Csécs, M. Takács, Editor

Abstract

Golden, gilded silver or silvered/leaded bronze plate ornaments/ plate fragments considered as ornaments of shrouds or coffins are known from 52 burials of 14 sites within the Carpathian Basin. The great majority of the sites are situated in the northern part of the Great Plane between the Danube and Tisza Rivers, in a region where there might have been the centre of the Khaganate from the middle of the 7th century to the and of the Avar-Age. In the Transdanubian region two of the most important prince settlement area of the Middle Avar-Age (Dunapentele, Ozora-Tótipuszta) are known, while in the Trans-Tisza region only one rich prince grave of the Early Avar-Age (the horse burial of Madaras) was found. All this reflects that the use of the funeral goods decorated with gilded plates was typical to the highest stratum of the social hierarchy. These plate ornaments were mainly found in male graves (33), less (9) came from female, 3 from child graves, while in case of 7 graves the gender of the dead is not known. Chronologically the 52 graves originate from an one and a half century period between the 7th and the 8th centuries.The understanding of the fragmentary nature and the reconstruction of the plates are difficult, because it can not be specified whether they were applied to the coffins or some textile bearing surface. While analysing the plates, those which might have been fixed to the coffin with nails were separated from those which have small holes at the rims. The first category includes the founds of Kiskunfélegyháza-Pákapuszta, Mélykút-Sáncdulo, Szeged-Fehértó B: Grave 61, Kunbábony (the bigger plate fragments) and Tatárszentgyörgy and can be imagined them on the coffins in the analogy of the reconstruction of the similar plates of the assemblage of the Pereshchepino, while the second category includes the smaller plates of Kunbábony and Kunmadaras and they might have been sewn onto the textile surface of the shrouds. The gold tinsel plates of the graves 12 and 13 of the Budapest-Rákos site were also applied onto shrouds which were spread onto the coffins, because the textile traces found on the coffin hinges reflect to the custom of spreading the shroud onto the coffin. Similarly to the face shrouds decorated with eyeand mouth-plates, the custom of decorating the coffins and shrouds with plates in the Avar-Age might be a feature originating from Central Asia, but the identification of their true origin requires further researches.