Extremely Rare Merovingian Frankish 'Hands Holding Heads' Belt Plaque Copper-alloy, 10.64 grams, 49.56 mm. Circa 6th century AD. A cast bronze flat-section belt plaque with two pierced lugs to the reverse for attachment. The design features two opposed panels of figural ornament, each comprising a piriform human face within a radiating crescent band; either side hands held to either side of the face, viewed as profile bird-heads either side of a different face when viewed upside down. Bird-head designs are a feature of 5th century metalwork which fell out of favour among the Franks on conversion to Christianity, implying that the head-and-birds motif has a significance incompatible with the new religion. Reference: Cf. inlaid Alemannic belt mounts and strap ends with similar face decoration in Menghin, W. The Merovingian Period. Europe Without Borders, p.405ff. Very fine condition. Provenance: from an old English collection.