Great Migration and Middle Ages Art 3rd - 14th centuries
The collection of Middle Age jewelry objects is not well known to specialists in spite of its great artistic and historical values. Created in the 4th-14th centuries by the goldsmiths from various cultures, these jewelry decorations were used on a huge territory of steppe, forest steppe and forest zones between the Don and the Danube rivers.
Various nomad tribes lived in the steppe-land of Ukraine: the Huns (4th-5th centuries), the Avars (6th-7th centuries), the Bolgars (7th century), the Khazars (7th-8th centuries), the Polovtsians (9th-13th centuries), the Mongol-Tatars (13th-14th centuries).
To the north, the more forested zone is known to be land of agricultural Slavic tribes. Firstly the Venetes are mentioned in the beginning of commun era, then in the 4th -6th centuries the forest zone was inhabitated by the Sclavens and closer to the steppe existed the union of Antes.
The medieval nomads culture was developed in connect with neighbouring cultures and felt their influence.
Most precious articles of the precedent Scythians and Sarmatians were made by the Greek goldsmiths who lived in colonies on the northern shore of the Black Sea (Chersoneses, Bosporus etc.). In the Medieval epoch these ancient colonies became provinces of the East Rome – Byzantium. And Byzantine goldsmiths made valuable things for the elite of numerous nomadic people.
Byzantine art was based on the best ancient traditions. It also absorbed many elements from the Oriental cultures and the Nomad art. Byzantine Articles became artistic standard to imitate.
In the Medieval Age the nomads’ culture of The North Black Sea coast developed in parallel with the culture of Slavs.
In jewelry art of the Eastern Slavs in the 6th-13th centuries it is possible to distinguish two phases. Firstly the epoch of Early Slavs (6th-8th) was connected with culture of the Polany-Rusy, the biggest Eastern Slavic union of the Middle Dnipro. Then during the Ruthenian epoch (9th-13th) was created the Kyiv Rus culture, the first Eastern Slav state.
The major effect on the life of the Early Slavs was linked with appearance of the trade centers on the Middle Dnipro lands. During the 7th-8th centuries trade settlements transformed into cities. The goldsmiths from those cities provided with their artworks the Slav tribes of the Middle Dnipro and of the East Europe.
In this period the jewelry art is influenced by the Balkan-Byzantine culture and also by the South Baltic and the North Black Sea tribes.
The examples of the Early Slav art are known thanks to archaeological findings: utensils, weaponries, tools, clothes and Jewelry articles. They were decorated with human and animal images, floral and geometric ornaments to protect against evil spirits, to help in life and at work.
Art of the Eastern Slavs with Iranian, Thracian and Finno-Ugrian cultural influences became the base for the Kyivan Rus art. The Rus borrowed motifs and techniques from Byzantine, Arabian and Norman countries.
Articles by the Kyivan Rus goldsmiths were in high mode during the 11th-13th centuries in the Rus and other countries.
Many of decorations were brought in the Rus by the nomad tribes with military campaigns and as result of culture relation with Western Europe, Byzantium, Caucasus and Scandinavia. Some of the imported masterpieces became models for the Rus goldsmiths.
In the mid 13th century the development of the Kyivan Rus culture was interrupted by the Mongol-Tatar invasion.