Near Eastern Spindle Whorl Decorated with Birds

£ 75.00

A Near Eastern hemispherical domed bone spindle whorl featuring a stylised depiction of  various zoomorphic figures, most likely a series of decorative birds. Incised lines combine with ring and dot groups to form the head of a bird. The whorl is pierced in the centre, with an unadorned reverse and flat base. The linear decoration and ring incision marks to the perforation show remains of a red pigment, suggesting the whorl could have been covered in a deep red pigment.


Date: Circa 9th - 10th century AD
Condition: Very Fine. Incised detailing still clear, evidence of some pigment still remaining.


SKU: SA-71 Category: Tags: , ,

Spindle whorls were a useful accessory to the spindle; wool would have been twisted around the spindle then spun and left to drop pulling the fibres and creating yarn. The whorl would have been attached to the spindle helping to control the speed of the process. The weight of a whorl would determine the force applied while the diameter dictated the amount of twists performed during one spin. This technique for spinning dated from the Iron Age to early post-medieval periods.

The dot-and-circle motif was one used across cultures and times. It is thought it possibly served an apotropaic purpose by warding of the evil eye, although this has not been verified fully. The motif was used frequently on Near Eastern spindle whorls along with other geometric patterns and the representation of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures.

Weight 2.9 g
Dimensions W 2 cm



Reference: For Similar: The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 38.40.17

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