University Archives


Tribal Ancient Bronze Snake Armlet

A superb bronze snake armlet, likely intended for a man, crafted quite possibly by hammering into the shape of a snake, with added design work. Roughly 15" in length which is wound into an open coil. The head of the snake is triangular, a shape often found with venomous snakes, with the end of the piece having the design of the tail rattle. The metal has developed a lovely green patina with only the outer edges still showing glints of the original base metal color (appearing as bronze).

The earliest armlets were made from materials such as shell or ivory, and then bronze and other more precious materials, including gold and gemstones. The ancient Mesopotamian men of the Sumerian civilization wore armlets. Ancient Egyptian art shows both men and women wearing pairs of armlets. The ancient Greeks and Romans also wore armlets, which were usually made from bronze or gold, and some of which were in the shape of serpents, winding plants, or embellished with images of gods and goddesses. Although traditional rattlesnakes are not found in Africa, Northern Africa is known for their Sidewinder, also called horn viper, which utilize a “sidewinding” style of crawling and have rattles on their tails. 

Many tribes in Africa have seen snakes as sacred. Killing or eating them was forbidden, while the shedding of their skin was a symbol of rebirth. The animals were more than a symbol; to some they were mediators between this world and the next. 

A phenomenal highly decorative piece with a mysterious past, worthy of further research.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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November 11, 2020 10:30 AM EST

Westport, CT, US

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$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
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