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

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

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
CONTACT ME for pricing and shipping information.  Use the private message form at top left of this page.  

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 )