Costumes of Slavic women from 8th to 15th centuries were inspired by the astonishingly beautiful culture of the Byzantine Empire. One of the things borrowed by the Slavs from Byzantium culture were temple rings. Slavic tribes integrated this ornament into their own culture giving the rings new meaning and design.
Temple rings were worn by Slavic women during the Middle Ages. Archeological excavations show that even women from some Scandinavian countries wore them, which means that Slavic influence at that time was widespread.
This ornament started gaining popularity after the 8th century. During this time, silver started flowing to the Slavic tribes, and they used it in order to create these simple, yet elegant ornaments. There also were temple rings made of iron, brass, copper and even gold. The latter were a luxury that only well-to-do women could afford.
Although temple rings were mostly worn by peasants, they were crafted by talented and skillful jewelers. The most popular designs engraved on them were:
- animal motifs
- geometric figures.
Popular designs and shapes differed from region to region. One of the motifs that were common for many different tribes was called “seven-rays”. Seven was one of the numbers revered by the Slavs.
Temple rings varied in complexity of design and, of course, cost. The more elaborate the girl’s jewelry was, the wealthier her parents were. Some of the pieces discovered in archeological digs today are truly majestic in their beauty, especially if you consider the rudiment tools that were used to create these elegant ornaments.
Temple rings were either braided in the hair or attached to headwear. These accessories symbolized the sun and fertility. Women in the Slavic tribes were treated with respect and admiration during the pagan times. As any jewelry, temple rings were considered symbols of beauty, so women and girls wore plenty of them.
Another symbolic meaning of the rings was protection from evil spirits. It was believed that clinking of metal rings and other jewelry could keep them away.
Some temple rings worn by women who lived in cities were decorated with beads of different kinds. Rather often, the beads were made of the same metal as the ring, but archeologists managed to find some made of glass and even fruit stones.