Salin Styles

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Name of the Dark Age art styles of northern Europe, first described by E. Salin in his work Die altgermanische Thierornamentik (1904). During the late 5th, 6th and 7th centuries, much of western European art, from Scandinavia to the Balkans, was pervaded by anthropomorphic designs, probably derived ultimately from naturalistic Roman animal ornament. This ornament was adapted and transformed by the Germanic craftsman into an evolving range of surrealist, abstract expressions. This Germanic animal ornament is most often associated with chip-carved designs on metalwork, but it was imitated to some extent by Christian sculptors and manuscript illuminators. Distinct variations within this Germanic ornamentation gradually developed; these were classified by Salin and are now known as Salin Styles I, II and II. Within these broad categories there are many insular variations, and in Anglo- Saxon England particularly there is some intermingling between the styles. Salin Style I stretches loosely from the end of the 5th century until the end of the 6th century, and features crouching quadrupeds which occur in a totally disjointed, abstract way with various parts mixed inextricably together forming a close-knit pattern. This style commonly occurs on the square-headed brooches of Kent for example, as well as the metalwork produced at Helgb in Sweden. This is succeeded by Salin Style II in which the same abstract beasts are elongated into ribbon and tendril designs which are intertwined and interlaced together, losing all concessions to realism. In England the animals were etched in double outline, and the bodies infilled with dots. Style II is seen on many of the gold objects of the Sutton Hoo treasure. In the late 7th and 8th centuries Style III emerged, with its more naturalistic emphasis and less restless designs but introducing a ferocious gripping beast. This was eventually to give way to the Viking art styles.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied