The Fibulae – a Roman safety pin!

Fibula (Latin “to fasten”) is an ancient brooch found in the Berber/Amazigh culture of Morocco. Technically, the Latin term fibulae refers specifically to Roman brooches, however, the term is widely used to refer to brooches from the entire ancient and early medieval world that continue Roman forms. Unlike most modern brooches, fibulae were not only decorative; they originally served a practical function to fasten clothes, including cloaks.

The spread of technologically advanced workshops in the Roman Empire led to more complex fibula designs. Bows were cast in more complex forms, hinges appeared alongside bilateral springs and a wide variety of plate designs were introduced.

Fibulae from the Metropolitan Museum. N.Y.

The Ring, or annular, fibula or brooch is extremely hard to date as the design for utilitarian pieces was almost unchanged from the 2nd to the 14th centuries AD. If there is decoration, this is likely to indicate whether a given ring fibula is Roman-era fibula or a medieval brooch. Obviously there are many a fibulae found in Morocco today that date a mere handful of years.

A singular feature of North African Berber costume is the use of the fibula, an ancient article of jewelry that holds capes and other garments in place. Fibulae from the Islamic period consist of two triangular end pieces, which are pinned into the clothing, and a chain that connects them. This piece in silver is an imposing example of a relatively rare type.

Though other classical cultures around the Mediterranean used fibulae, the geometric outline and interior design of this piece are unique to Morocco, and can be found in local textiles as well. In these designs have talismanic properties and symbolize magic, protection, and good luck.

The modern version!

The descendant off the fibulae, the modern safety-pin, remains in use today.

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Wikipedia

Click here for Moroccan Fibulae Earrings at out Etsy shop.

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This entry was posted in Berber/AMazigh, Body adornment, the Romans and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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