These delightful earrings, which capture the beauty of the herbís distinctive four-petaled flowers, are based on black mustard plants cultivated in the gardens at The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages. The mustard herb has long been recognized for its medicinal qualities.
24K gold overlay. 1 1/4''L. Pierced, with gold-filled posts.
- 24K gold overlay
- 1 1/4''L
- Pierced, with gold-filled posts
Art History Native to the Mediterranean, mustard was introduced into northern Europe by the Romans, who distinguished two kinds: white (Sinapis alba) and black (Brassica nigra). Both species were used as condiments and medicinals, although black mustard is the stronger of the two. The Roman natural historian Pliny, recognized as an authority on herbal medicine throughout the Middle Ages, recommended mustard as a stimulant, to clear the sinuses and the eyesight, help bruises and stiffness, warm chilled parts of the body, and as an antidote to counteract poisonous mushrooms. According to the Herbarius Latinus, a 15th-century herbal reference guide, mustard is warm and dry in the fourth degreeóthat is, as warm and dry as a plant may be. This warming and drying action was the impetus for mustardís use in ailments that came of a cold cause.