ethnic jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

A Turkoman puzzle

Persian Yomud earrings, each consisting of a long stem ending in three spirals of wire. And to these, platelets have been attached - one in the shape of a 4-petalled flower or cross and two others decorated with 'granulation'. Two bright blue turquoise stones, like those from Nishapur in Persia have been inserted into the bottom spirals. Dimensions: 13x4.8cm. Nineteenth century. Found in Afghanistan.

But are these really Yomud earrings?.... I will show you another photo.

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Comment by Thelma on Tuesday

Thanks Betty. Yes you are right. These designs do travel. If it were possible, it would be interesting to have a distribution map to find out how widespread the distribution of these items was/is! Today there is one, at least, in the UK...some in Almaty. The museum in Almaty seems to have a good collection of jewellery artefacts. I wonder if they will digitise them for us.

Comment by Betty on Tuesday

These are beautiful, Thelma! I also know these pieces as Kazakh (and as you say similar worn by the Karakalpak Turkmen people) and also saw some of of them in extensive jewelry collection of the National Museum in Almaty. But some designs travel widely. Both Iranian Turkmens and Kazakhs have links with Afghanistan - not to mention the Caspian Sea link - so there are many reasons why this style might be worn by different groups... I love yours - they stand out from the usual shapes to posted below. Congratulations!

Comment by Thelma on Monday

And (forgive me) yet another picture of a similar pair of earrings from the Gull Collection. Like mine, these are 12.5cm long, have 3 spirals and a small platelet with a '4-petalled flower'. Rudolph explains that this type of earring was formerly attributed to the Kazakhs but he follows Kalter in attributing them to the Iranian Turkmen. HOWEVER..... one only has to return to the Richardsons' website to find a pair of earrings which are almost exactly the same as those in the Gull Collection. It seems that the Karakalpaks and the Kazakhs would still claim this form of earring as their own. And so the debate continues.

Comment by Thelma on Monday

The mystery deepens. Here is a picture of a similar but simpler pair of earrings. They are attributed to the Iranian Turkmen (Yomud) - like mine. They have a long stem (12cm) and two spirals.... and the spirals have centres which are decorated in what looks like Kazakh 'granulation'. The picture can be found on p.111 in Kalter's book, The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan. But the problem is that they seem less like mine than the Karakalpak earrings shown earlier. A puzzle.

Comment by Thelma on March 19, 2017 at 14:26

Here is a photo of a similar pair called shiyirtpaq sirga meaning 'twisted spiral earrings'. They are worn by elderly Karakalpak women. They have the same three spirals of wire and a platelet above the spirals which looks like a 4-petalled flower. The photo can be found at


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