Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chasing Bracelets in Hadhramaut, Yemen

Creating designs in metal by pushing the material into different levels and shapes as a form of decoration has been done since the Bronze Age.  When it is done delicately and the result is aesthetically pleasing, it is known as chasing.  These bracelets show how it is practiced in Hadhramaut:

Antique Yemen silver bracelets with rare Hadhramaut pierced and spiked motifs. Probably from the Hadhramaut region since it specialized in this Bedouin style related to the jewelry of Oman in design and techniques. 

Hadhramaut is near Oman, another country on the Arabian Gulf Coast. 

The tools that produced these intricately wrought silver bracelets are very simple, often handmade themselves. The silversmith employs tools for annealing or softening the hard coin silver, a hammer to flatten it and shape it around a dowel. Pliers and cutters are necessary to size and shape the pieces that will fit together. While the pieces are still flat, the piece of silver --still thick enough to be very sturdy for everyday wear in harsh living conditions -- is pierced, chased and embossed (repoussee) into the various patterns before the pieces are soldered together. The spikes, which are not sharp enough to cut, cover the soldered joint of the pieces. On the smooth inside piece of silver, a crease shapes the material to meet the outside where it is joined also by the spiked pattern. 

These were usually made in household shops by a family that handed down the traditional fabrication methods and the old motifs.  Whereas in Sana'a on the Western side of Yemen the silversmiths decorated their metal jewelry with filigree and granulation, on the Eastern side of the nation in Hadhramaut, they decorated their silver jewelry by piercing and chasing it.  

These were bought from a dealer in Yemen for my collection over ten years ago. 

These are in the original condition except for a few very small dimples. 

Measurements: Inside diameter = 7 cm; 2.75 inches
Outside diameter = 11 cm; 4.25 inches
Weight = (1) 100 gm; 3.5 ozs. (2) 93 gm; 3.3 ozs.

I respond promptly to inquiries; I accept lay-away plans for collectors.


  1. Your posts are always so fascinating. It's amazing to see the exquisite detail on these pieces made with such simple tools. Thanks for sharing, Anna!

  2. Long after making the collection, I am just now researching the history of the places and the methods of making the jewelry. So I have to spend some time for each listing or blog just to learn what I need to know in order to explain the 'language' of the piece. ;)