Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pieces Separated from Yemen Bridal Jewelry

Pieces from Yemen bridal dowry jewelry still serve as simple but still beautiful pendants, charms and beads that can be combined with contemporary jewelry elements to good effect.  I offer some examples here:

Antique Yemen Silver Amulet, Beads, Terminals, Lapis Lazuli Necklace

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This necklace is assembled from pieces of old Yemen silver jewelry made by the Yemenite Jewish silversmiths as dowry jewels and bridal finery to be worn at the wedding and at significant events later in the bride’s life.  The focus of this necklace is the Yemen coin silver amulet made from melting down Maria Theresa thalers, an international currency at that period in history.  This kind of amulet is also known as a hirz, qtub, or mezuzah.  

This hirz can be described in English as a Yemen antique silver amulet made to contain a prayer or blessing to be worn as part of the bridal dowry on a woman's wedding day. You can see where the Yemen Jewish silversmith signed the piece on a cartouche of molten silver in its traditional place between the loops on top of the amulet.   The silversmith signed it in the archaic Arabic script that was used in Yemen even up into the early part of the twentieth century, when this piece was made, some time around 1930. 

This kind of work is no longer being done in Yemen, because the Jewish silversmiths moved along with the others in the Jewish community to their new home in Israel in the late 1940s.  

The small flat divider bead that hangs above the amulet is made in the Bawsani style of inlaid filigree.  The columnar Bedihi beads are very rare and we are very fortunate to have found them through our agent in Yemen some years ago, before the current troubles in Yemen began.  The terminal pieces are almost unavailable nowadays.  Fortunately, our family came into possession of a bag full of them several years ago, and I found this beautiful pair to decorate the ends of the strands on this lapis beaded kirdan style necklace.  

The lapis lazuli beads are high grade nuggets of lapis from Afghanistan.  The small white separator beads are made of natural bone.  The chain that goes around the back of the neck of the wearer is an old handmade Yemen chain.  The lobster clasp is modern silver plated metal.  

This necklace will mark the wearer as a person who not only recognizes beauty but also values the history of her jewelry.  

Necklace length - 23 inches (58.5 cm)
Pendant dimensions - 1.9 cm x 6.2 cm (0.75 in x 2.5 in)
Pendant dimensions including flat bead and dangles - 64 mm x 62 mm (2.5  x 2.5 in)
Silver terminal length - 4.6 cm (1.8 in)

Close up view.


Antique Yemen Silver Filigree Amulet with Hollow Silver Bead Dangles

CONTACT ME for price and shipping information.  Use the private message form at top left.

This is a fine antique Yemen Silver Amulet made in the traditional method with fine open filigree work with clusters of the granules of silver on the ends.  This is a decorative amulet that is not made for containing prayers or blessings such as the ones that have filigree inlay over the closed cylinder that contains prayers or blessings.  The amulets whether they contain prayers  or are deorative are also called hirz, q'tub (kitab), or mezuzzah.  Since this is a relatively small amulet, it probably hung on a cord with other amulets, one being the large one that opened to insert the actual prayers. 

Dated to the early 1900s, such amulets were created especially for the Yemen brides to wear as their dowry, their store of silver to provide them with security, as their dowry was their own property.  Silver in the form of beautiful jewelry also gave the woman status among her peers.  And of course, the load of silver jewelry adorning her from the top of her head to the tip of her toes made her even more beautiful on her wedding day.  

This is made of silver from the Maria Theresa thalers that came into Yemen from Europe through foreign trade for Yemen's raw materials or coffee. This would have been created as bride wealth for a woman to wear on her wedding day and then at the birth of each of her children. 

I provided this valuable collectible with a silver plated chain with a lobster claw clasp so that you can wear it as jewelry.  

No charge for shipping to U.S. addresses.

Length of chain - 18 inches  
Amulet - 44 mm (1.75 inches) x 40 mm (1.6 inches) including loops and dangles.


                      Old Yemen Silver Wheel Bead with Coral, Amber, Bone Beaded Necklace
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Close-up of Yemen granulated silver wheel bead.

In making this necklace I raided my stash of old butterscotch and egg yolk amber resin beads.  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 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 )

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yemeni Nomad Jewelry Finds

Old Yemen Silver Coin and Beads on Goat Hide Leather Headband

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Silver headbands were a common accessory worn by Yemeni women in the early 1900s. The methods of making the complex forms and links that made a silver piece flexible and soft enough to be worn across the forehead for a long time are no longer practiced widely in Yemen. The Jewish silversmiths who made those intricately woven silver accessories emigrated to Israel in the early 1900s.

Since that time, individual pieces of silver such as the coins and granulated bell-shaped beads, adorned with matching rose coral beads could be assembled from the remains of the older pieces and re-used as in this headband. 

It is one of a kind, original, authentic Yemeni folk art and is beautiful in its balance, comfortable because of the soft goat leather and is complete, just as the maker put it together. 

It appears to have simply been tied around the head, since the ends are very tapered, but no holes have been punched as if a needle had sewn it together. 

The large coin is the Maria Theresa thaler, a major source for silver jewelry making in the 19th and early 20th century in Yemen. The face of the monarch, Maria Theresa, is turned to the back, and hidden by the leather backing. It was once furnished with a bail for hanging; the bail is decorated with a charming granulated rosette. 

The other coins are Yemeni, and I cannot see the date on them, but they no doubt precede considerably the fabrication of this piece, as would the 1798 date on most Maria Theresa thalers! 

The coral is closely matched in size and color and is obviously old Mediterranean real, natural rose coral. 

Inquiries invited. As you can see, I like to discuss the items in my collection.

26 inches long.  $320.00 U.S. 

I offer a Reserve and Pay in Partial Payments over 3 months for all purchases of $300.00 or more.  If you are interested, please contact me and we can make an arrangement that suits your needs.  
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 purchases amounting to $300 or more, the shipping will be free. Otherwise, the shipping charge will be shown before checking out. 

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.

CONTACT ME through the private message form above left.