Rus Scandinavian viking snake brooch
Viking Age serpent brooch with pin and back catchplate: complete. 54 mm length from top of the pin to the tip of the snake's nose. 40 mm broadth. 18.96 grams. A large bronze brooch with the snake’s tail curling around the neck, cast grooves around the round body, and a clear face on the mounting area of the pin, maybe representing an owl, which fastens in the back of the brooch. See for comparison with the owl detail on a sword chape, also from the Ukrain (link attached).
Found in Novgorod, Russia, and identical to the form on a mold found near Vyshgorod, Ukraine, just north of Kiev. The mold is illustrated and described in Y. M. Lesman’s Slavic and Old Russian Art of Jewelry and Its Roots (link attached, in Russian, 2006) p. 479 as Scandinavian in form and origin. Very few examples of the brooch are known, although the same serpent element was found in the Penza district of Russia with holes on and near the head for fixing rivets and a thin fastening bracket on the other end--so used as a belt mount or a strap junction. Another example has a different hinged pin assembly. Beautiful even dark green patina, likely 10th century.
On the same time I aquired the snake brooch, a similar type snake brooch was on sale on Ebay, found in Belarus, near the Dnieper river.
That example has a few tiny differencies though. The head of the snake's decoration is less abraised, the pin of the brooch is differently attached and lacks the decoration on top of the pin; the overall look of the brooch is of a less well preserved example. Though comparison material is limited, the distribution area of these specific kind of brooch can be addressed as today 'Russia' wich encourages me to determine this type of brooch as Rus-Scandinavian. 'Made in Russia under the influence of Scandinavia'. Of course, these are present day determinations, like Anglo-Scandinavian is.
Brings us to the ever questioned question: what and why is depicted what is depicted?
Well.. we can tell for sure a snake is depicted. But to call this Jormungand, as the snake in Norse mythology? And if not, what would it had represent then, as the snake is also connected to the underworld like Nidhogg (the 'Dread Biter') who coiled around one of the three roots of Yggdrasil the Tree of Life, and tried to choke or gnaw the life from it. "Here there is an evil dragon named Nidhogg that gnaws constantly at the root, striving to destroy Yggdrasil" n ancient Slavic paganism a deity by the name of Veles presided over the underworld. He is almost always portrayed as a serpent or dragon depending on the particular myth. The underworld was part of a mythical world tree. The roots of this tree (usually growing in water) were guarded by Veles (Volos) the serpent god.
My best guess is a snake was just depicted because of its form wich was appealing without deeper meaning The curling and entwining character can be found on many artefacts from the Viking Age and early medieval age. Wearing a symbol wich represents the underworld wouldn't sound logical - set aside for the wanderer or völva...