Friday, August 26, 2011

A Link between Yemeni and Turkoman Cultures

The Afghan/Turkoman Wedding Necklace

This kind of eyecatching personal ornamentation was reserved for women at their wedding and for special occasions thereafter in both the cultures under discussion.  You can see similarities in the materials and in the design.  These particular components were all collected and assembled in Afghanistan from the shops in the bazaars of Kabul.  It is all authentic Afghan/Turkoman style ornamentation.  Every part of the necklace was bought there in 1974.  The necklace was assembled based on examples of such necklaces for sale in the shop windows, usually the most collectible (and highly valued) item in the shop.  

The silver is still shiny and bright; the extremely rare old shells are still strong and have proven durable for the hundred or so years that they have decorated a wedding necklace (this particular one only since 1974).  The coral is of Mediterranean origin and would have been bought somewhere along the trade route from Europe into the Himalayas.  Kabul sits at the foot of the High Himalayas and was a very important stop on the route from Europe to China.
The green serpentine is a plenteous Afghan stone, locally called Afghan jade. 

Near the necklace fastening, on each side, there is a double bead, a characteristic of Turkoman silver jewelry.  It is quite rare to find a Turkoman double bead of this age.  The back of the necklace is just as imposing as the front.  The six silver beads at the center of the necklace are actually bells that sound like sleigh bells as the wearer walks.  A woman who wears this kind of necklace is making a fashion statement -- and declaring her status in the tribe.

A wedding necklace that shows the status of the families of the bride and groom, a multi-strand necklace displaying stone, shell, coral and silver beads and the manner of stringing the components together all show obvious similarities.

More information at 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Worthy Necklace for a Yemen Bride of High Value

Remember when you saw the photo of the Yemen bride loaded with her bride wealth?  I will post it again just to remind you of the wedding adornment that a highly valued bride wore in 19th century Yemen:

The necklace that I am now posting a photo of is of a kind that the father or groom would pay dearly for, I am sure, because he had to provide enough Maria Theresa silver thalers to make the necessary amount of beads and a matching number of  thalers as payment to the silversmith.  The Yemeni Jewish silversmith who made this particular necklace is Baws.  In general, the work from Beit Baws (House of Baws) is not signed with the maker's mark, because the work is so distinctive that it has never been matched by someone outside the Bawsani tradition. 

There are 15 filigree beads with granulation and 7 medallions attached to the 7 central beads on the chain, also made of wire filigree on a silver background with rosettes of granulation.

This will be a nice finish to the discussion of Yemen bride wealth jewelry for a while, so that we can turn our attention to the much longer archeological and historical record of the culture and handiwork of the succession of peoples who have inhabited the region that is Western Asia.  

You can find more information on this necklace at

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Announcing the Dispersion of This Fine Collection

I am older now than when I collected these beautiful things.  I am now concentrating on necessities and am ready to disperse the lot to others who will appreciate the cultural artifacts in my collection.

I have had my fun, as they say, and now I must get serious.

So I have linked a couple of web sites at the foot of this page.  They are my sales catalogs on the internet.  I will be adding many, many more items as we have time to unpack and photograph them.

You can have a preview of the places that I have opened:

They are all just a click away ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yemen Coral Necklace with Amulet in Coin Silver (0.900)

Antique Yemen (ca.1900) coral necklace with coin silver (0.900)amulet. The amulet was made by Jewish silversmiths while there was still a sizable Jewish population in Yemen. No such work is being done in that country any more. These pieces are becoming very rare and are finding their way into museums and private collections.
On this particular re-strung old necklace, the coral is very old, shaped by hand and hand-drilled. There are two very small finely granulated coin silver beads, formed in the traditional shapes and by the traditonal methods of the Yemen of its day. There are also two bone beads as spacers.
The necklace has about 11 grams of this old natural-color coral. 

Measurements - Length of necklace: 37.5cm (19 inches). Average diameter of small coral beads: 5mm; larger coral beads: 7mm. Diameter of amulet: 10mm; length : 31mm