Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

Little tumar (tumarca)

A small silver Yomud tumar dominated by a huge pair of horns facing downwards - and on either side a projection which looks like a horse's head. Various platelets, some showing signs of early gilding, are soldered on. At the very top, above the large oval carnelian set vertically, there is a small round medallion with a seven pointed star. The bozbend tube, decorated with 3 carnelians, opens on the left in order that papers can be stored inside. Everything has a meaning. Dimensions: 15cm x 15cm. Nineteenth century. Possibly Chorezm.

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Comment by Betty on March 21, 2017 at 11:02

A wonderful old piece and great addition to your collection Thelma. Thanks a lot for showing! Betty

Comment by Thelma on March 12, 2017 at 16:52

Thanks very much, Mustafa - and for the illustration which is very clear and interesting. I have seen these tiny granules used for conveying meaning on other pieces of Turkoman jewellery - often 10 little granules in a circle representing the 10 lunar months of pregnancy. It shows how important the use of numbers and symbols is and how, when they are used together on a piece of jewellery, they convey meaning which is understood both by the wearer and her community, binding everyone together.

Comment by Mustafa J. Salem on March 12, 2017 at 13:05

Comment by Mustafa J. Salem on March 12, 2017 at 12:56

Thank you Thelma for your comment on my observation. That is interesting to know about the numbers.. I noticed also that in the four half moon shapes with very small dots there is always 9 of them at the top.  while the sides and the centre each has 5 the bottom side is always with 9. I tried to compare this with the photo you have below.. and though I couldnot see those as the picture is faint but it seems that the same is the case there as well.. Very interesting indeed... Thaks again for the communication..

Comment by Thelma on March 12, 2017 at 11:14

That's very interesting, Mustafa. You are right. The number of platelets used on the chains is exactly the same - 18 of them. I haven't yet been able to find the significance of the number 18. There are some numbers which are well known and well understood - for example, 9 or 10 for the period of pregnancy, 12 for the annual cycle, 14 for the phases of the full moon. But there are others which are much more mysterious and which are difficult to grasp without an in-depth knowledge of the cosmology. The nearest number I have found is 17 which is regarded by the Turkmans as a lucky number. According to Schletzer, it means regeneration.  But 17 is not 18!! Maybe 18 represents 9x2 - a double wish for a child ...or not.

Comment by Mustafa J. Salem on March 11, 2017 at 18:35

Thank you Thelma for the elaborate explanations and the good information which sounded very interesting to me. I also noticed that the total pieces hanging are always 18 . In the old picture you showed down there are six raws but with three each making them total of 18. Interestingly in the beautiful piece you shared above there are two in each with crescents and stars but they are 9 so that the total again 18. More than that this piece you have if evenly crafted would have only 16 as it should have 8 hangings each with two. But the silversmith put one extra in the left side so that the number will be 18... I am not sure of course and I do not know whether the no.18 has any meaning or not.. or whether it is just a coincidence...But it is rather unusual to have two hanging pieces under the right and center part and three in the left one.. to make it rather uneven..??  Just an observation nothing more as I know nothing about these ornaments rather than that they mean a lot for the bearers spiritually as well as psychologically ... may be you have an idea about this??  Very interesting indeed to see such rare pieces still around...Thanks again for sharing this

Comment by Thelma on March 11, 2017 at 16:11

Thanks Mustafa, This piece of jewellery would have been worn by a woman at her wedding and at least until she had her first child. So the bozbend tube would have been filled with prayers and charms and verses from the Koran which would provide her with psychological and spiritual support to have her first child.

Thanks very much for these interesting observations about the chains. You may well be right. The use of numbers as a way of expressing and interpreting certain types of information is important in Turkoman cosmology. And chains ... for instance, the number of chains on a particular piece ... is part of this. But usually the chains are the most vulnerable part of these pieces ... they become detached and are replaced .. and are, as a result, perhaps the least reliable source of information. As to the 5-pointed star and the crescents which you find on these chains in particular, I have always associated these with the Ottoman Turks, eg. the flag. It may be that these symbols come from something in the ancient history and cosmology of the Turkish people. Looking at this piece I am not sure whether the number and the orientation of the 5-star symbols carry a deeper meaning or whether they have become like that over time through wear and tear. But it's interesting to contemplate.

Comment by Mustafa J. Salem on March 11, 2017 at 7:52

Very interesting and unique to me. I wonder what kind of papers stored in the tube ? (amulets)? .I also wonder whether the directions of the crescents with the five-point stars " facing up or down" has any significance ? ( total 18/11 facing down and 7 facing up .. or is it just the way they were hung with no real meaning of the direction? Very interesting thank you for sharing this Thelma.

Comment by Thelma on March 9, 2017 at 19:12

Dear Howah, Yes, I too like the pieces which don't quite conform to the usual well known shapes. I agree this one is not particularly beautiful. I fear It was treated rather roughly and I think the silver had probably oxidised before being treated with a powerful cleaning agent. When I first saw it a couple of years ago, the crowd of chains which hang from the bozbend was incomplete and two of the bells were missing. The dealer managed to find two bells and a chain which didn't match... he did his best. But this is one of the pieces I later sent to the restorer. I will attach a photo.

Comment by howah on March 8, 2017 at 20:59

very strong design and unusual. I love these non typical pieces

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