Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yemen Bride Bracelets - a Pair in Silver

A significant cultural item: a pair of bracelets in coin silver made as bridewealth (dowery). See The Jews of Yemen by Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper in the series Highlights of the Israel Museum Collection for a more complete story than I can offer here.

The workmanship is remarkable, the artisan used many of the special motifs common in the Yemen jewelry of the 19th century: twisted wire, beaded wire and braided wire detail fill in the spaces between the three rows of attached diamond shapes and the fine granulation. 

The material used for making up a dowery were the melted down Maria Theresa thalers of the 18th and 19th centuries. It was the standard for quality silver in that era and was used in trade between Europe and Arabia and Western Asia. 

For the dowery, the bride was literally weighed down with silver ornamentation. Rings were made in matching pairs; so with bracelets and anklets. Bracelets were made to fit along each arm, even above the elbow. 

The Jewish silversmiths were removed from Yemen when Israel was established, so this work is no longer being done in Yemen. Complete pieces, especially matching pieces are very rare, so this would be an important addition to your collection or your adornment.

Measurements: 1.96in at widest inside point, with 1in opening for putting on wrist. Diameter of silver work is 0.65in. Total weight of pair: 4 oz.

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