Home > Design, History, Things I Like... > The Five Senses of the Fuller Brooch

The Five Senses of the Fuller Brooch

There’s been a lot of stuff on TV about the Saxons at the moment, and one thing that caught my eye was this wonderful object…

Dating back at least 1000 years, this magnificent circular brooch is made from hammered sheet silver. The centre part is decorated with five figures who represent the five human senses.

In the centre is Sight, with large staring oval eyes. Sight was thought of as the most important of the senses in medieval times.

The other four senses surround Sight, and can be identified by their actions: Taste has a hand in his mouth. The representation of Smell stands between two tall plants and has his hands behind his back. Touch is rubbing his hands together and Hearing holds his hand to his ear.

In the outer border are human, bird, animal and plant motifs, which may represent different aspects of creation. The figures stand out so clearly because the background has been inlaid with a black substance known as niello… (I don’t know before you ask!)

Stunning in every respect… I want it!

  1. January 18, 2011 at 15:59

    A couple of thoughts… I am working on a redone version of this to be made in pewter. Drop me a note if you are interested.

    On the topic of niello, that is an technique for creating color contrast. It is a mixture of lead, sulfur and other metals in an alloy that gets fired into the recesses. The result of firing lead and sulfur is a black infill. Silver sulfide is a common black contrast now used when we can lacquer the piece. Otherwise we would polish silver sulfide away since we would call it tarnish. So niello is permanent tarnish and lead infill…

    Nice picture and nice write up…


    • January 18, 2011 at 16:18

      Hi Leif
      Many thanks for your kind words, and thanks for the update on neillo, new knowledge is always gratefully recieved.
      I would be interested in a facsimile of the brooch yes, however in these “days of austerity” I am beholden to ask how much one might be first, rather than give you a straight “yes please, send it me know…” ‘Tis tough times for architects I’m afraid.
      Look forward to hearing from you.
      Kind regards

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