A clasp from Transylvania
Transylvania art in the 17th century: a clasp from the British Museum.
These huge round brooches, worn as clasps or as pendants, were characteristic of women’s dress in Transylvanian Saxony in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were known as Heftel (or Hefftlenn in old Transylvanian Saxon dialect), and were made in the workshops of the Transylvanian Saxon cities: Hermannstadt (Sibiu, Nagyszeben), or Kronstadt (Braşov, Brassó), also possibly Bistritz (Bistriţa, Beszterce), Mediasch (Mediaş, Medgyes), or Schäßburg (Sighişoara, Segesvár).
Silver-gilt clasp (‘Heftel’), built up in several layers to form a domed shape with a central flower formed of an octagonal colourless stone with looped milled wire surround within blue enamelled silver petals, a gold star at the end of each petal, the enamel partly missing. The central flower is surrounded by two rings of turquoises, red and colourless stones and small pearls alternating with domed openwork foliate bosses and enamelled plaques. Between the two rings and at the outer edge are ropework borders formed of twisted wire incorporating a thinner sheet of zigzag wire that protrudes from the rope. The three large pearls in collect settings around the outer edge are later additions; the central colourless stone may also be a replacement. The small enamel plaques inserted between the floral elements and the bands that hold the stones are enamelled dark blue with yellow dots and gold stars, but much of the enamel is lost. The back concave with rivets and hinged silver pin.