Monday, June 11, 2012

Old Turkoman Gilded Silver Globe Bead Pendant

Antique Turkoman Gilded Silver Pendant Afghan Jade Bead with Dated Coin

This large antique Turkoman gilded silver pendant with a small Afghan jade or serpentine bead and a dated Afghan coin make a strong visual impact when worn. First the gilded Turkoman globe bead is directly in line with the ancestral motifs that had persisted through the history of the Turkmen, at least from the time they came down from their sacred mountain in the Altai chain. One of the constants in designing their adornments is what we would call a heart shape. They call it Asyk. Eight equal sized asyks are formed by placing a thin layer of gold in a facet of the silver globe around the top of the globe. A heart shape is cut out of the center of the thin gold layer before it is placed on a facet of the silver globe, thus revealing a silver heart shape. Then the pattern is reflected on the bottom section of the globe. In this manner, the designer continues two tribal traditions in Turkoman jewelry: standardized numbers of repetitions of a decorative motif and reflections of the symbols on the top of a piece of jewelry to appear on the bottom in a mirror image.

The eight asyk shapes formed by gilded silver cut-outs on the silver background adhere to the 4, 8, 16, arrangements of life in the Turkoman world view. It is unusual to find old Turkoman pieces that depart from the standard arrangement in making their jewelry. Spherical jewelry is usually made in two sections with a band encircling the middle in order to make the hollow sphere or cylinder possible. This particular globe has a decorative band around its middle.

To cover the bead hole at the top of the pendant, there is a serpentine bead known as Afghan jade. It is quite old; I collected it as part of a prayer bead string in Afghanistan in 1974. It was old at that time, so it was possibly made at about the same time as the globe bead. Through the globe runs a length of hammered gold plated wire with loops. Hanging from the bottom gold wire loop is an Afghan bead dated 1294 A. H. which translates to 1873 A.D. The coin may well be older than the pendant. The pendant has a ding in the top section that does not show when worn with the opposite side to the front.

You will find a similar globe bead hanging from a tumar, a mountain symbol, on page 263 of Dieter and Reinhold Schlechter's book, Old Silver Jewellery of the Turkoman.

The pendant hangs on a gold filled chain.

Neck chain: 18 in (46 cm)
Globe Pendant: 38 mm (1.5 in) diameter x 12.4 cm (5 in) including bead and coin.