Kuman Belt From Tomasevac

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    The Khuman Belt from the Area ofTomasevacMARIN BRMBOLIC, Institute for the protection of cultural monuments, Pancevo

    An almost complete specimen of luxuriously manufactured belt is stored at the Department of archaeology ofthe National Museum at Pancevo. It was found in thevicinity ofTomasevac, district ofZrenjanin. The Museumpurchased it 10 -15 years ago, whereas the data onpreciselocation and finding circumstances are lacking. IParts of the beltmanufactured of gilded silver sheetand a massive buckle are preserved. The parts stored intheMuseum are: a buckle linked to its extension by a hinge, anopposite part of the belt, and six appliques (Fig. 1).Amassive ellipsoid buckle, polygonal in section (size5.5 emx3 em), ismade in casting technique (Fig. l/1a).Itswidth varies between 2,2 emat the frontal partand Iem attherear, where it turns into a hinge. A triangular catchwhich secures thepinpoint is accentuated at the saddle-like center of the buckle. The buckle is linked toa rectangular inverted plaque (size 14.3 x 2 ern) by a hinge.The plaque is made of silver sheet in hammering technique. Tiny traces of hammering areclearly visible at itsrearside. Borders oftheplaque are inverted andfixed byfive small nails. Globular nail heads are visible at theouter surface of plaque. Obviously, they served to fix aninserted girdle of leather or cloth. Only outer surface ofthe belt was gold gilded and decorated by geometricmotives.Arectangular field (size 13.5 em x 3.2 ern) is decorated by straight, thin, wavy incised lines. It is filled by

    I Iwish to thank most cordially toMrs. R. Svircevic, director ofthe National Museum atPancevo, for her consent tomake drawingsof the parts of belt garniture. Ashort version of this work was presented at the annual meeting oftheSerbian archaeological society atBrezovica in May 1996.

    incised cross-cutting wavy lines forming irregular squarefields. Each field is half-covered by incised wavy lines,appearing in shape of isosceles triangle.The end ofthebeltismanufactured of two thin platesof silver sheet (size 14 emx4 em; Fig. 1/2, 2a). They are

    attached one to another bya short nail with globular head.In this way a girdle inserted between two silver sheetplaques was fixed. This partof belt is slightly damaged.Atone side its border is straight andat another side it isslightly narrowed and rounded. Outer surface is gildedand decorated with same motives and techniques as thebelt partwith hinge. Inner surface is smooth, partly damaged, with visible traces ofhammering.Three forms could be distinguished among six specimens of preserved appliques, which were also manufactured byhammering: crescent, floral and shield-like. Thecrescent-like applique (R=4.3 em) ismade of silver sheetwith gilded outer surface. It is flat andbears tiny traces ofhammering. (Fig. 1/3). Three small circular openings at itsborders were used for fastening the girdle. Applique edgesarecurved, hence it had amassive appearance at thegirdle. Fastening holes also appear atthe floral applique (R=34.3 em; Fig. 1/4)). Outer surface of this applique is flatand divided into sixsegments by thin wavy incised lineswhich meet at its center. Its edges arealso slightly curvedand rounded. The remaining four appliques are shield-like(size 4 em x 4.2 em; Fig. 1/5-8). Their points are sharpand sides are slightly rounded, while theedges are curved.Circular openings appear at all specimens, including thetwo damaged ones. Outer surfaces are decorated by thinwavy incised lines forming lozenges (Fig. 1/7), triangles(Fig. 1/8), and checkered pattern (Fig. 1/6). Incised linesare carefully executed at all parts of the belt, and outer

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    274 Marin Brmbolic

    (,'. .: ,.1'c '

    1a

    Fig. 1- Tomasevac, parts of the beIt

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    The Khuman Belt from the Area ofTomasevacsurfaces were surely gilded after completing the decoration.Forms of buckle and appliques, technique ofdecoration, material used for metal parts, as well as the similar

    finds - mainly from Hungary, may all imply that the beltfound bychance in the vicinity ofTomasevac belonged toa certain Khuman dignitary. It isalso indicated by the evidence showing that all similar belts represented graveinventories.The Khuman graves with preserved belt componentswere uncovered in Russia, Moldavia and Bulgaria.However, the buckles found in them are different from theone recorded in the vicinity of Tomasevac. The closestanalogy is represented by the find from aKhuman graveat Felsoszentkiralyi in central Hungary (Fig. 2).2 Apartfrom the preserved belt components manufactured of silver sheet, this grave contained a saber, arrowheads, coat ofmail made ofmetal scales, a knife, and awhetstone.' Thebelt was completely preserved, and it consisted of fourteen shield-like appliques, and fifteen appliques in form ofdouble fleur-de-lis.The belts from Felsoszentkiralyi and Tomasevac areslightly different in respect to size, decorative motivesand shape of the appliques. However, the buckles arealmost identical and they areunique in the noted region.Silver sheet parts ofbelt are decorated byhammering andincision. Shield-like appliques from the grave inHungarywith rounded lower point in form of so-called "Spanishshield" date from XIV century. The appliques fromTomasevac have sharp lower point and are somewhat laterindate, from mid-XIII to mid-XIV century.'Certain assumptions may be implied related to thearrangement ofappliques ona leather orcloth girdle. Weconsider an idea ofK. Szabo, who reconstructed the beltfrom Felsoszentkiralyi, acceptable.' According to hisreconstruction, we may suppose that crescent-like and floralappliques found atTomasevac were fixed to the maingirdle. The shield-like appliques could therefore be fixedto tongue-like parts vertically suspended from the maingirdle (Fig. 3). Meaning of the shield-like appliques is

    2A. Palcozi -Hervath, A. Felsoszentkiralyi kun sirletet, CumeniqI, archeologia, Keeskemet 1972,177-201.

    3Idem, 177-20 I.4 Idem, 177-201.5Idem, 180.

    275variously hypothesized. Some consider them as decorativeelements only, while certain Hungarian scholars find similarities between incised ornaments at the shield-likeappliques and the emblems ofaristocratic families.

    Apart from Felsoszentkirlyi find, the graves with similar finds are discovered atCsolyos and Kigy6spuszta, alsoinHungary. However, a single fact which relates thesefinds to the one from Tomasevac is that they were ascribedto Khumans. They are entirely different in appearance,especially regarding the buckles. Inall the noted gravesthe deceased were ofmale sex. Previous research indicated that the Khumans constructed small, l m - 2m highmounds above the grave pits. All these graves belonged toKhuman leaders dating back toa period before Khumanswere overpowered byHungarians.sAccording toHungarian scholars, one may not relatethe finds from Felsoszentkiralyi, Csolyos and Kigy6spuszta to a period ofAvarian orHungarian settlement,although certain similarities were noted. This type ofbeltis ascribed to Khumans and it is assumed that theybrought it in the second halfofXIII century, and that itwas subsequently accepted by Hungarians.'

    1. Dienes suggests that this type of belt was used inByzantine and Bulgarian courts inXIII-XIV centuries. Ithad awide distribution inEastern Europe between VII andX centuries, and could be considered as a prototype ofaso-called "Bulgarian belt".' It was always manufacturedofsilver and silver sheet inhammering technique, withoutgilding.Written sources imply that the finds of so called"Hungarian belts" (cingulum ungaricumi were present inthe Balkans inXIV century." They are manufactured ofsilver and silver sheet by hammering, with gilded surfaces, thus entirely corresponding to the belt found in thevicinity ofTomasevac.Apart from the graves discovered in Hungary, theKhuman graves were discovered in the South RussianPlains. However, Hungarian archaeologists assume thatFelsoszentkialyi find, and hence also the Tomasevac find,

    6 Idem, 177-201.7 Idem, 177-201.S I. Dienes, AKarancslapujtoi homoglalas kori bv es mordvinfol

    di hasonmasa, Arch. Ert. 91 I, 1964, 33-37. A. Paloczi-Horvath,op.cit., 189.9A. Paloczi-Horvath, op.cit., 177-201.

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    276 Marin Brmbolic

    3o

    1 L J l l l - ~0 0 05

    56TOem

    Fig. 2- Felsoszentkiralyi, part ofthe belt from a grave

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    The Khuman Belt from the Area ofTomasevac

    could not be related to the finds from Russia. Adifferenceis obvious as regards both the buckle forms and the technique ofmanufacture of these luxurious belt decorations.Such a luxurious type ofbelt undoubtedly belonged toa Khuman dignitary, and not to an ordinary warrior. J.Kovacevic suggested as well that the belt was a symbol ofpower. 10 In the West, it played a role of a symbol in theknighting ceremony. Belts were manufactured ofgold or

    277Russians, Petchenyeges, Turks, Bulgarians and Alani, tookplace in the Byzantine army as hired soldiers.'! Togetherwith Russian army the Khumans were defeated at the riverKalka in 1223, having opposed to a new threat comingfrom the East - the Mongolians. After the Tatarian conquest, the Khumans were displaced and received into theservice of John Batatzes - the Byzantine emperor, as thestratiotes in frontier territories. IS Large masses of

    Fig.3 -Tomasevac, reconstruction ofthe belt (after K. Szabo)

    silver articles of various shape attached to a leather orcloth girdle. I IThe Khumans, orPolovci orKipcaki arrived from theEast inXIcentury. The main part ofPetchenyeges, whoruled in the South Russian Plains since the end ofIX century, was driven away by Khumans t