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Greek, Hellenistic
Pair of Earrings with Geese
4th-1st century BC
Gold and green glass

1 X 1 X 3/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Miss Annette Finnigan


Geese were frequently kept as household pets in ancient times. They also functioned as guards, squawking to warn of a strangerís approach. Here, geese are incorporated into a pair of pierced earrings, which were a popular form of adornment. Throughout the ancient world, wealthy women wore jewelry to enhance their appearance and indicate rank. Men lavished gifts of earrings, bracelets, and necklaces on their wives and mistresses as tokens of affection. Brides had dowries that often contained sizeable [begin ital] parures, [end ital] or jewelry wardrobes.

In these earrings, each six-petaled cup rosette, attached to a long hook, has wire stamens tipped with gold granules. From the rosette, below a green glass spacer bead, hangs a pendant in the form of a goose on a small cylindrical base. Tail and wing feathers are outlined in filigree wire; circles of the same wire indicate the eyes. Each goose has a rosette on its breast, hanging from a necklace.