Bulgari: The Serpent
For millennia, the snake has had a bad rap – as a creature of evil and chaos emerging from the underworld. But for that equal amount of time, it has also staked its claim as a symbol of great power and healing. In The Iliad, Homer wrote of Asclepius, a physician who tended to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield of Troy and was later apotheosised as the God of Medicine. Illustrations and sculptures often depict him holding a rod entwined with a serpent. Meanwhile in ancient Egypt, the snake made its appearance in the form of a uraeus – an upright representation of an Egyptian cobra with its hood spread, and an emblem worn over the forehead by royalty and deities alike. When Bulgari introduced flexible Serpenti Tubogas pieces in the ’40s, it marked the beginning of a new era when the serpent would become associated with the Roman jeweller. Here, it takes the form of a sinuous Dragone motif on a boxy minaudière.