Temple rings are jewelry pieces that were a part of traditional women’s clothing in Scandinavia and the Slavic nations (during the middle ages).
They were called ‘temple rings’ because the women wore them on their heads (near their temples). They were attached to a special headband.
However, temple rings of all types were worn in multiple ways – tangled in the hair, multiple piercings on an ear, leather and textile bands and straps attached to other headdresses .
The most common materials for making temple rings were copper, bronze, iron and sometimes, silver and gold.
According to ethnologists, the temple rings (among the Slavic tribes) had a function of symbolizing the cultural identity, kinship, and marital status of the person who wore them.
Temple rings have been found mainly in the graves of women, but there were also young girls buried with such jewelry. These rings have been found on territories inhabited by different Slavic tribes.
In the East, temple rings have been excavated in Pskov, Novgorod, Moscow, Kostroma, Gnezdovo, Kyiv, Smolensk, St Petersburg and Vologda. On the other hand, in the West, they were most commonly found in Poland, Moravia, Thuringia and former Yugoslavia.
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Major Types of Russian Temple Rings
Temple Rings have been classified according to their type and the location they were found on.
The usual Russian Temple Rings are Krivichi, Polonian, Novgorod/Slovene, Radimichi, Vyatichi, and Severian. They all have their own specifics by which they can be recognized.
The Krivichi are known as ‘Bracelet style’ temple rings made of wire rings with a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, with the ends of it tied in a knot. They were common among the Krivichs women, an Early East Slavic tribe that prospered between the 6th and the 12th centuries.
The Poliane/Polyane or Kyiv type is a hoop with three beads. This style ranges from simple to very complex. Some of the more complicated examples feature multilayered granulated beads, with wire wraps that hold the beads in place along the hoop.
This type of temple rings was mostly worn among tribes that lived in the east, near Kyiv (during the 11th century). Polonian style rings are among the best examples of gold, silver, and bronze jewelry made in that period.
These bronze rings have the shape of a rhomboid that is either hammered into the ring or bound. They are found among the women of the Slavic tribe Ilmen.
This Slavic tribe lived in the Gatchinsky District and Novgorod Oblast, from the 10th to the 14th century.
The rings are made of a copper wire, with 2-5 rhomboidal shields or flanges formed at intervals, and then bent into a ring .
Radimichi or the seven rays ring is another unique jewelry, made of seven rays with balls at the end of the points. These are found among the Severians and the Slavic tribe Radimichis.
These temple rings also have seven projections, but their points are paddle or blade-shaped. The surface of the rings is flatter and often engraved.
This type was found in the women’s graves of the Vyatichi, another early East Slavic tribe who inhabited the Oka river, Moskva river and Don river.
There is a variant of the Viatichi rings with elaborated filigree instead of the blades.
Very common spiral rings worn by the women of the Severian tribes or tribal confederation. They were usually made of silver.
There are many more different types of temple rings that were worn by the women of different Slavic tribes.
How to Make Traditional Slavic Jewelry
The techniques for creating temple rings have improved a lot since the medieval time.
These ornaments, used by the Slavic women, are exceptionally made and their age only adds to their beauty and value (just like with women).
However, you can always make a spiritual connection with the ancient Slavic tribes by making or buying such ornaments for yourself.
Various different pieces of Slavic jewelry or one that look like ancient Slavic ornaments can be found in designers’ studios.