Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yemen Silver Beads from Kirdan Bridal Necklace

Antique Yemen Silver Amulet, Large Silver Melon Beads Chain Necklace


From my own collection of precious cultural relics of the Yemenites, I offer this antique Yemen silver amulet or prayer cylinder, large melon-shaped banded and striated silver beads in a traditional pattern of the early 1900s. Smaller silver beads separate the large beads from the amulet and from each other. All the beads and the amulet were made around 1900 and my family collected them around 2000 in Yemen. The Jewish silversmiths who did this kind of work had emigrated to Israel by 1948 and no one has made this kind of silver jewelry in Yemen since. 

The jewel chest in the photo is also from Yemen, and is filled with amber beads from Yemen, but it is not for sale. It is appropriate to display this chain of large beads and the unusually decorated amulet near a wood chest, because they were part of a bride's dowry. Among the people of the Middle East, the dowry is the equivalent of a hope chest and wedding shower. 

The family, the groom, and friends contribute the gifts of silver. Usually, those gifts, whether in coinage or in silver pieces from previous generations, are melted down and new beads, amulets, chains, veil and hair ornaments, rings, bracelets and anklets are made for the bride to wear on her wedding day and then to use as a treasury if she needs to spend it for necessities later in her marriage. 

At the birth of each child, she will wear the jewelry again to receive the visitors who come to congratulate her. 

Only the necklace is for sale, not the props in the photos.

The chain and fastener are modern antiqued silver plate.

Amulet is 26 mm diam x 7.6 cm long 

Price: $650 U. S.   Contact me for invoice or with questions through the private message form at the top left of this page. 

Yemeni Silversmith


Bridal Dowry



Year (estimate)

Very Good

Item Condition


Country of Origin


Primary Material

More Info

International Buyers are welcome to my California based shop. Please browse, ask questions, discuss items, shipping, or guarantees. Please use the Contact Seller link, not the comment box. I am happy to respond quickly to any of your inquiries. I will consider shipping to other countries than are listed here, depending on the import regulations of the country.

Unless the customer requests and pays for an expedited method, domestic and international shipping is via United States Postal Service. The item will be wrapped carefully and packed in protective material in a postal service approved package. Delivery confirmation and insurance will be paid by me, the Seller.

On high value items, the shipping will be free. Otherwise, the shipping charge will be as noted at the Shipping tab of the item listed for sale.

I accept returned items if they are in the same condition as when shipped and if returned within a reasonable amount of time after receiving them. An item can be returned for any reason. I guarantee your satisfaction.

For international buyers, it is important to note: If you need to know what import or VAT taxes your country may charge, please consult your Postal Service or government Tax Office.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Turkoman Ersari Tribal Silver Jewelry

Some of the most elegant jewelry produced in the late 1800s to early 1900s came from the hands of the Ersari tribe silversmiths.  The traditional Turkoman symbols are more important to the Ersari craftsmen than the encrustation of the silver with multi-colored jewels such as pieces made in the Bukhara tribal tradition.  For example:

Antique Turkoman Tribal Silver Pendant Asik Ersari Design
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Antique silver Turkoman pendant called asik by the Turkoman. This plain ungilded silver with a certain cut of the gemstone is characteristic of the Ersari tribe of pre-1900, according to Dieter and Reinhold Schletzer, Old Silver Jewelry of the Turkoman. 

There are circular tracings for decorations along the raised section markers of the asik. The carnelian in the center is cut irregularly, slightly domed but baroque on its surface. The ruby red gemstones or glass? are incised with symbols of a crescent moon and stars. 

I assume these represent Moslem symbols, as the Turkoman people were not moon worshippers according to the history recorded by Messrs. Schletzer. The Turkmen honored ancestors, the mountains which were their original homeland, and the family. 

The asik seems heart-shaped to us, but to the Turkmen it suggests part of the female anatomy. It is a symbol for wife and mother to wear. 

This piece was collected in Afghanistan. The Ersari live in the northern regions of Afghanistan and wear such asik as this one. 

Note that the wire is only for holding the pendant for display. It is not a part of the piece. 

The piece is large, measuring 8.3 inches long and 5.5 inches wide 

This Ersari veil ornament shows the same understated elegance as the asik above: 

Antique Turkoman Silver Ersari Tribal Hair Ornament

This is an ornament that the Turkoman woman or Turkmen women wear attached to their braided hair. The ornament hangs from the back of the crown of the head when the dangles are on such long chains as this one. The shorter ornaments for the hair are sometimes attached to the hair just above each ear and are worn as pairs. This type is sometimes pinned to a head covering rather than to the hair. 

This tenecir, which is the Turkic language term for this ornament, is made in the typical Ersari tribal style of good silver and is in excellent condition for its age of over a hundred years. For the age of this style of work I refer you to Reinhold and Dieter Schletzer's work entitled Old Silver Jewellery of the Turkoman. 

The carnelian is the favorite gemstone of the Turkoman people. This particular gemstone is table cut or flat cut and was not perfect when it was set. This flaw did not bother the tribal mentality of that period of Central Asian history. In fact, if a silversmith made a flawless piece of jewelry, he might punch a small hole in it or purposely do slight damage to the piece so as not to tempt supernatural powers that might take revenge on him for his pride of work. 

However, I do not hesitate to recommend this beauty as a perfect addition to your Turkoman tribal silver collection. 

Measurements: 16 in (40.5 cm) long x 2.75 in (7 cm) wide

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A sampling:

For more information on these jewelry pieces from my collection, send your inquiry through the private email form above left.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Blend of Silver Amulets and Beads from the Middle East

Yemen Amulets, ornate Iranian silver beads and composite turquoise beads celebrate the trade routes across Iran into Yemen.  I must add that I collected the beads and amulets while I lived in the Middle East and now offer this blend of cultures.

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

This necklace is modeled on Afghan bazaar style combinations of gemstones and silver from all over Western and Central Asia.  All the pieces are old, including the turquoise disk beads.  The beautifully handmade faceted Afghan silver beads and Yemeni coin silver amulets are from the early 1900s.  The amulets were collected in Yemen by a member of my family in the 1970s.  The jet beads are European and have been in my loose bead trays for a long time.  

The green blue natural composite turquoise and the black and silver bead colors strike the eye when worn on a colorful garment.  I highly recommend this necklace to women who wear red.

The ornate wheat grain shaped silver beads are from Iran, collected by a member of my family in 1973.  

The blue beads strung on the top of the larger amulet are of the Nueva Cadiz type, but I cannot be sure of their age.  They are old, but I cannot say how old.  They were bought on a string with an Egyptian faience statuette but I doubt that they are old enough to belong with an ancient Egyptian artifact.  They are probably pre-1950, but cannot be dated much earlier.  We can safely say that they are an old reproduction of the more ancient beads.  

The 25-year-old fastener is of pewter.  These pieces are from my own collection, including the fastener.  

Measurements: 65 cm (26 in) long; central amulet is 6.6 cm (2.6 in) long x 18 mm ().72 in) dam; turquoise beads are 9 mm (0.35 in) dam. Weight: 102 grams (3.6 ozs.)

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Antique Silver Rings made by Yemen Silversmiths

Rings and Things with silver buds on them, a sampling.

A variety of ring styles from my antique Yemen bridal dowry jewelry collection.  CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

Antique Yemen Silver and Coral Ring from Early Nineteen Hundreds 

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The Yemen silversmith made this ring with the typical motifs around the silver band and used a beautiful old Mediterranean red coral bead as the setting in a handcrafted bezel.  

It is made with the primitive hand made iron tools of the Jewish community of silversmiths of the time. Such jewelry is now rare because the Jews left Yemen in the 1940s, moving to other parts of the Middle East, mostly to Israel.  

Size: 8 per U.S. standard (18 mm inside diameter of band)
Diameter of Bezel and Coral Setting - 12.5 mm

SOLD: Old Yemen Silver Ring Omani Style with Silver Granules and Beaded

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

I acquired this ring from a collector in Oman, though the ring is said to be from Yemen, probably from the Southeastern Province touching Oman.

It is decorated like other Omani jewelry. The band exterior is embellished with silver granules and beaded wire. The silver band is smooth on the inside. The beaded wire at the edges finish the decoration nicely. The ring is in very good condition and easy to wear.

It is probably made from Maria Theresa thaler coins melted down and blended with melted silver jewelry, a common practice in Yemen jewelry making. It might have been made as late as the 1940s in Yemen or if it is from Oman, it might have been made only a few decades ago.

Measurements - 25 mm = 1 inch

Outside diameter - 22 mm
Inside diameter - 18 mm (about size 8 in U.S. ring size)
Width of band - 18 mm

Yemen Silver Bedouin Ornamental Ring with Red Glass Flat Cut Gem  SOLD.

This is a beautiful Yemen silver ring worn by more than one generation of women I am assuming from its soft glowing patina. It was probably made by a rural jewelry maker, not by one of the master silversmiths in Sana'a. Of course it is possible that the ring was made by a young novice, just learning the skill of making Yemen silver jewelry.  

The silver ring is set with a round piece of smooth flat cut red glass. two small ornamental hollow silver beads decorate the bezel of the setting. The piece is probably at least fifty years old. The ring band has been either broken and repaired at center back or it was connected with a blob of solder when it was made. The inside of the band of the ring is smooth and comfortable on the finger.  

There is no charge for shipping.  

Measurements - 
Inside diameter of band - 18.5 mm (0.73 inch) Size 8 - 8.5 American size
Bezel diameter - 20 mm (0.8 in)

This ring was made by a Jewish silversmith in the cultural enclaves in Yemen where most of the silver jewelry was created. It is made of silver from the Marie Therese thalers, the international medium of exchange until the late 1800s. It is a noble addition to your collection. 

This beautiful design was made by the silversmith's talented hands and the five rudimentary tools that were also handmade of iron.  

Inside diameter - 2 cm (0.75 in)
Height at ring face - 10 mm (0.4 in)

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Antique Kazakh Afghanistan Turkoman Tribal Silver Bead Pendant

A Rare Kazakh Turkoman Bead shown in different lighting:

In a cool light with sunlight blocked, the silvery surface is almost too gray and does not reveal the natural aged patina on the silver.  In the photo below, the sun is obviously streaming in and hitting the background of the photo.  Oddly enough, the surface of the bead appears as its natural self with a fairly dark patina in the recessed places while the raised granules of silver shine softly from being rubbed against clothing of the wearer of this old bead, collected in Afghanistan years ago.  

A side view to show the typical two sided hollow bead style of the Turkoman or Turkmen tribal silversmiths.

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A fuller description of the bead:
Rare find in Afghanistan in my collection for years. This is the prized Kazakh two sided bead that can be used as a pendant. 

Authentic Turkoman tribal silver bead collected by a family member in Afghanistan in 1974. This was old at that time. Note that a slot has formed on the rim of the bead hole on each side caused by the rubbing of the string from which it hung. 
The bezel is set with a green and a blue glass bead. The two faces of the bead are otherwise identical. The granulated silver pyramidal shapes are typical of this tribal style. The base sheet of silver is oxidized and the layer of granulation is applied over it. 

This is a fantastic collector piece of Turkoman silversmithing. You can keep it as a collectible, put it on a cord or chain and wear it alone or you can string it with other beads and make yourself or someone else a fine necklace. 

Measurements - 3 cm x 3.5 cm x 13 mm (1.2 in x 1.4 in x 0.5 in)

You are welcome to comment and share.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Oops! of Expatriate Living

Polishing Pans

A bowl in my own collection collected in Afghanistan.  If interested, please contact me.

A story about polishing pans:

Some confusion can occur when the same words have different meanings when two speakers live in two different cultures.  This happened to a friend of mine when we lived in Afghanistan.  The Afghans speak a language related to English and they speak English quite clearly, with just a slight charming accent.  Nevertheless, certain practical household terms such as the word POLISH can mean something entirely different than how my British lady friend meant it when she used the word when speaking to her Afghan cook.

To buffer the beautiful copper cooking and serving utensils that we American and British expatriates admired, collected and used, the Afghan metalsmiths clad the copper with a coat of tin.  This not only protected the people who ate food cooked and served in the utensils, it also lengthened the usefulness of the copper vessels.

In the photographs above and in the first photo below, you can see examples of used copper in the condition in which we householders in Afghanistan bought and used it.  It is very attractive and quite safe to cook and serve in.  In an Afghan household, after years of service, the utensils would be taken to the tinsmith to be re-clad with a shiny layer of what the Afghans counted as -- you guessed it -- POLISH.  We expatriates usually collected these beautiful antique dishes just as the old tin coating was wearing thin so that with a mechanized steel brush, the copper peeking through the tin outer layer could be brought up to a glowing coppery red and the tin would be  even more subdued by the brush removing some of it and dulling such tin as remained on the dish or pot.

While to the Afghan cook, the word POLISH meant applying a coat of shiny tin metal, to the British lady of the house, it meant rubbing it briskly with a steel brushing machine to remove the tin so that the coppery glow would enhance the beauty of the antique vessel.

The nearest machine of this type was over the Khyber pass from Kabul, the Afghanistan capital where many of us American and European expatriates lived.  My English lady friend asked her cook to take her collection of antique vessels to Peshawar in Pakistan by bus through the Khyber pass and have the vessels POLISHED!

You have anticipated what happened.  Nevertheless, I will provide illustrations of the three stages  of these collectible dishes, pots, cups and other vessels from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.  I have borrowed examples from international sellers:

From the shop of  at  Illustrating the stage at which the collectors buy the utensils.

This is a magnificent covered serving dish that has been burnished with a steel brush to remove almost all the tin from the outer layer, leaving a tin lining for the serving dish itself.  I have served dinners from one almost just like this that I collected in Turkey.  Fortunately, Ankara had such brushing machines in the old part of the city.   

Below you see examples of original copper pieces in the background and in the foreground you see the copper water jug and mugs that have been POLISHED with a layer of silvery tin.   

Just musing about the interesting stories of my life abroad. 

Thanks for reading my blog.  You are welcome to comment! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Creating a Nomad Style Necklace from Old Silver and Vintage Beads

Note the vintage bakelite toggle clasp on this brilliantly colored Middle Eastern Nomad style necklace.  I call it a fascinating fastener.

Old Yemen Silver Wheel Bead with Coral, Amber, Bone Beaded Necklace

$78.00 U. S.  CONTACT ME for invoice or more information through the message form above left.

Here is a closeup view of the Yemen wheel bead: 

In making this necklace I raided a pile of old butterscotch and egg yolk amber resin beads that I had collected over time.  But this necklace demanded more beads and more of a variety due to the importance of the focal bead. It is an old Yemen silver alloy bead made in the standard granulation style. Tiny beads of silver are dropped onto a wire or solid background metal in rows or in patterns. The small beads made in this way are called Bedihi or berry beads, while these larger diameter granulated beads like this one are called wheel beads. They resemble a lugged tire.  

This one is large enough that it needed large decorative beads to surround it. The Yemen silversmiths, along with the desert nomads, preferred two kinds of beads to string with their silver creations: coral and amber. When the old natural frankincense amber became too expensive for them to string with their beautiful silver, they turned to the modern imitations of amber coming from Europe and North Africa. For a long while the Mediterranean natural coral remained available to them.  

Unfortunately, the Mediterranean coral beads are very scarce and expensive at present. For this piece, I decided to use the dyed natural coral from the Pacific which is naturally much paler and grows thicker branches than the old Mediterranean type. I chose for the foil against which the silver, amber resin and coral would play a handful of my tray of dyed bone beads, shaped by hand and quite at home in a nomadic style of necklace such as this one.  

The necklace contains three antique Yemen silver beads, four of the Pacific coral beads and 27 bone beads. The remainder of the beads, including the fastener are made of vintage amber resin beads.  

Necklace length - 26 inches (66 cm)
Wheel bead dimensions - 25 mm diam. x 16 mm wide (1 in x 0.63 in )

$78.00 U. S.  CONTACT ME for invoice or more information through the message form above left.