Fibulae appeared in the Aegean around 13th-12th century BC following a change in fashion of women’s clothing, whereby the new peplos (a heavy garment made of wool) needed to be held in place with an aid. Such fine and complexly decorated fibulae as the present example transcended being merely a pin and were considered a piece of jewellery. These fibulae were created using the lost- wax method; a piece of metal was cold worked, one end hammered out into a lozenged-shaped catch-plate.
The birds, horse and fish stand for the three elements: air, land and sea. The composition of the opposing sides make a separation of the two primary temporal elements, land and water, symbolised by the horse and fish respectively. The birds represent the air and the heavens, and are the overarching link between land and water.
Mr and Mrs S. Broukal, UK; acquired prior to 1956, thence by descent
See an example in the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, inventory number 0561, which could well have come from the same workshop, and an example at Harvard Museum which shows the same scene on the obverse, inventory number 1965.27
Compare also Oscar W. Muscarella, ‘Ancient Safety Pins’, Expedition Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (Penn Museum, 1964), p.34