Vintage Diamond Serpent & Stag Brooch
The conflict between stag and serpent crops up (albeit occasionally) in various pre-Christian sources too, where the notion of stags and snakes being enemies appears to have been pretty well ingrained. Artemis and her brother Apollo are related to the stag and snake, respectively, and the two animals appear together on AD 2nd-3rd century Roman coinage. The second and third of Herakles's labours were the Lernaean Hydra and the Ceryneian Hind. The Gundestrup cauldron (Celtic, 200 BC - AD 300) features a panel with a stag and a snake flanking Cernunnos.
And the Roman's were all over it... Pliny and Aelian write about the stag being able to lure the snake out of hiding with its breath. Martial writes, in his Epigrams (1st century AD), "...so a stag's breath sucks up a clammy snake," and, even earlier, Plutarch writes in the 'Moralia' (circa AD 100):
"But let these examples suffice to show that sea animals are not entirely unrelated to us or cut off from human fellowship. Of their uncontaminated and native intelligence their caution is strong evidence. For nothing that swims and does not merely stick or cling to rocks is easily taken or captured without trouble by man as are asses by wolves, bees by bee-eaters, cicadas by swallows, and snakes by deer, which easily attract them."
And as early as the 1st century BC Lucretius, in 'De Natura Rerum' (circa 99-55 BC), writes:
"Let none believe that in these regions stands
The gate of Orcus, nor us then suppose,
Haply, that thence the under-gods draw down
Souls to dark shores of Acheron- as stags,
The wing-footed, are thought to draw to light,
By sniffing nostrils, from their dusky lairs
The wriggling generations of wild snakes.
How far removed from true reason is this."
So basically I have no idea where the inspiration for this brooch comes from... I suspect the original myth comes from some now lost proto Indo-European culture and has echoes down the annals of time. The brooch is crafted in 9 carat gold and studded with rose cut diamonds. The serpent's body is finished in royal blue enamelled scales, and both creatures feature ruby eyes. To add further to the intreague, it bears French import marks for 9ct gold (clover).
Era: Vintage circa 1950
Stones: Rose cut diamonds and rubies (rubies are likely lab grown)
Marks: French import marks for 9ct gold
Condition: Great vintage condition. One small area of enamel loss. The snake's head wiggles slightly when worn which I think is probably deliberate to give an impression of struggle.
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