Gundestrup Cauldron – Popular Silver BowlA popular silver bowl located over hundred years back in a turf swamp in Jutland in Denmark is the Gundestrup Cauldron. It was discovered by peat cutters in a peat bog known as Raevemose. At that point of time, the Danish government offered a reward to the discoverers who consequently fought among themselves over its separation.
Investigations by Palaeobotanical on the peat bog during the time it was located indicated that when the cauldron had been deposited, the land seemed dry and the turf had gradually expanded over it. The mode of heaping over the cauldron indicated an attempt of making it unobtrusive and concealed. Another investigation was conducted in 2002 of Reavemose, and it was assumed that the peat bog could have prevailed when the cauldron had been submerged.
Decorated with Repousse Work
The Gundestrup cauldron comprises of a round-shaped bottom cup, making the lower area of the cauldron known as the base plate. There are five interior plates above and another seven exterior plates. The eighth exterior plate is missing, which needs to encircle the cauldron. There are only two segments of the round rim towards the top of the cauldron.
Apart from the decorated round medallion towards the centre of the interior area, the plate at the base is said to be smooth and not decorated internally and externally. However, the other plates seem to be decorated greatly with repousse work beaten from beneath to move out the silver. Other procedures had been utilised to add more aspect bringing out wide trimming together with some use of decorated pieces of glass for the figures. Overall the weight of the Gundestrup cauldron is just below 9 kilograms.
Gundestrup: Largest Specimen of European Iron Age
Its exteriors have been richly decorated with various scenes of war and sacrifice, a goddess flanked by elephants such as Gajalakshmi, deities wrestling beasts and a mediating figure with stag’s antlers. The Gundestrup cauldron dates back to the middle of the 2nd century BC.
Taking the elephants into consideration, the iconography should be Indic while the yogic figure in cross-legged Indian pose appears to be Pasupati (Siva). The Gundestrup cauldron is said to be one of the largest specimens of silver of European Iron Age. Its diameter was 69 cm and a height of 42 cm. When the site was excavated, the Gundestrup cauldron was located in a dismantled state together with various other pieces piled beneath the base in a marshland.
Elements of Gaulish & Thracian Origin
Though the Gundestrug cauldron was traced in Denmark, it could not have been produced there. Elements of Gaulish and Thracian origin signs have been seen in the workmanship, metallurgy and images. Procedures and basics of the style of the panel are connected with the Thracian silver, and most of the description of the human figure is linked to the Celts.
However several attempts to connect the scene with that to the Celtic mythology seem to be questioned. Another characteristic of the iconography has originated from the Near East. Hospitability probably was the responsibility of the Celtic leaders. Though the cauldron seems to be an important item of prestige metalwork, they are generally smaller and plain.
Gundestrup: Variation of Female-Male depiction
The Gundestrug cauldron had been traced in parts, and the same had to be reassembled. Sophus Muller determined the traditional order of the plated and was the first to analyse the cauldron. He utilises his reasoning on the positions of the trace solder placed towards the rim of the bowl.
A puncture sign in two cases tends to penetrate the interior and exterior plated supporting in creating the order. In its concluding stage, the plates are placed in a variation of female-male depiction and presuming that the missing plate could be of a female. However, not all the analysts are in agreement with Muller’s comparison.
According to Timothy Taylor, the art historian, he stated that besides the two cases of puncturing, the comparison cannot be determined from the point of view of the solder alignment. He debates that the plates do not seem to be directly adjacent to each other. They tend to be divided by a 2 cm distance. Hence the plate in this order is not to be read with conviction as the true narrative, should one exist.
Carved By Indian Craftsmen
As per some of the historians, the Gundestrup cauldron had been carved by craftsmen of Indian origin in Thrace. The National Museum of Denmark has raised this question, ‘The Gundestrup cauldron’s motifs draw the observer into an alien universe far from that of the people who deposited in the bog in north Jutland.
Elephants, lions and several unknown gods, represented in a different style, indicate that the cauldron originally came from a distant area to the south or southeast. Exactly where it was made is still open to question. Perhaps it was a gift to a great chieftain or could it have been war booty?’ Taylor mentioned in the Scientific American that `a shared pictorial and technical tradition stretched from India to Thrace where the cauldron was made and then to Denmark.
For instance, yogic rituals are inferred from the poses seen of the antler-bearing man on the cauldron and of an ox-headed figure on a seal impress from the city of Mohenjo-Daro. The other three connections are the ritual baths of goddesses with the elephants, Lakshmi is the Indian goddess, Visnu, wheel gods and Hariti, the goddesses with braided hair and paired birds.
Theory of Thracian Origin
The bowl has several features which seem to have some similarity with the ornamental plate from the Thracian grave at Stara Zagora in Bulgaria. Therefore its theory is of Thracian origin. From the observation of the clothing of the figures, it seems to be Indian, considering the woven herringbone tight costumes together with the cummerbund which both the men as well as the women seem to attire themselves with.
It has been presumed that the Gundestrup cauldron had been the work of several silversmiths. With the use of scanning electron microscopy, it has been identified by Benner Larson that 15 various punches had been utilised on the plates. These were categorised into three various toolsets. No single plate had marks of more than one of these sets which portray that at least three diverse silversmiths had worked on it.