Lot 85. An Egyptian gold snake bracelet, Ptolemaic to Roman period, circa 2nd century B.C.-1st century A.D.; 1 7/8 in. (4.7 cm.) diameterEstimate USD 8,000 - USD 12,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2020.

Provenance: Maurice Bouvier (1901-1981), Alexandria and Switzerland, acquired and brought to Switzerland by 1959; thence by descent.
Maurice Bouvier (1901-1981) Collection; Archéologie & Arts dOrient, Artcurial, Paris, 15 May 2019, lot 103.

Literature: M. Page-Gasser and A.B. Wiese, eds., Ägypten: Augenblicke der Ewigkeit, Mainz am Rhein, 1997, pp. 314-315, no. 218.

Exhibited: Basel, Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig and Geneva, Musée d'art et d'histoire Genève, Ägypten: Augenblicke der Ewigkeit, 18 March 1997-11 January 1998.

NoteThe use of the snake in jewelry made its first appearance in the Greek world during the Geometric period, the earliest example being an anguiform bracelet found in Eleusis. The motif can be seen on by female figures depicted on Athenian vases during the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., but it became immensely popular in the Roman period. As S. Walker explains (p. 318 in S. Walker and P. Higgs, eds., Cleopatra of Egypt), "It was thought both that the snake was a potent symbol of fertility and that it had healing powers. The snake played an important role in the cult of Asklepios, the Greek healing god, because, as the snake lived underground in the dark, then emerged as the sun rose, it designated the transition from the underworld to the upper world. This, then, was a symbol of life and death, sickness and health, fertility and infertility." For a similar pair at the British Museum, see no. 334 in Walker and Higgs, eds., op. cit.

Christie's. Antiquities, New York, 13 October 2020.