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Openwork Plaque

Nyrgynda, Udmurt Republic

6th-8th century AD

Bronze

L 18.2 cm, w 9.9 cm

The plaque has a complex design showing a winged anthropomorph on the back of a long anteater. The anteater has a short wavy tail, short three-toed feet, and seven fish in its belly. Over the anthropomorph appear several elk and bird heads, and at its right and left are two human masks and eleven animal heads.

This plaque probably illustrates the Udmurt myth of the seven worlds of the universe: three above the earth, the earth itself, and three below the earth. The heavens are symbolized by birds, the earth by the anthropomorphic figure and the elks, and the underworld, the world of water, by the anteater and the fish.

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