Earring (One of a Pair)

Period: Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C.–A.D. 668)

Date: Silla Kingdom, early 6th century

Culture: Korea

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: L. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm); W. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm)

Classification: Jewelry

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1943

Accession Number: 43.49.1


The most exquisite of the objects found in the royal tombs of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.–668 A.D.) and the neighboring Kaya Federation are personal ornaments. Deceased nobles, both male and female, were richly adorned with gold and jade. Pure gold earrings, most often found in pairs, display a variety of designs and accomplished goldsmith techniques, from simple cut gold sheet to intricate filigree and granulation. This early example, dated to the late fourth to early fifth century, features a globular bead with three tiny pointed leaves, from which are suspended two leaf-shaped pendants. The double band of notched decoration encircling the bead and the single band of decoration around the edges of all the leaves resemble granulation. The ultimate source of this technique is probably the Greek and Etruscan goldsmiths of western Asia and Europe, whose skills were transmitted to northern China and then to Korea.