An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment
Probably 80 to 100 years old, this is a large pendant with Arabic inscription. About 7.5 x 12 cm. Gilt silver with enamel decoration.
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Dear EE, Would love to know more about "gates of paradise". Particularly, what features are typical/required on these pendants and what does modern oral tradition say about their symbolism? Then, what features do they share with other ancient art forms to connect them to a more ancient tradition? Looking forward to more info!
I have yet to upload information regarding the "gates of paradise" pendants from Morocco. They rather exactly resemble early grave stele as well.
I have recently realized something interesting about these "louha" pendants. As we all know these are named for the traditional writing boards children at the masjid use to practice their script. BUT as with much of Tunisian jewelry, this form has much older antecedents. I believe that this pendant form has its roots in ancient depictions of pagan temple architecture. First, I have noted that many of these pendants contain architectural elements. The one above has what looks like 2 windows or doors in the center. Some of the elements also resemble columns and pediments. Secondly, I have noted the marked resemblance between this type of pendant and Carthaginian grave stele. And most of these grave stele have an outlined shape that is meant to mimic the pediment front of a temple. Take a look at this example////
And that back certainly does look very early. I think it is a jewel of a piece!
Thanks, Edith. If it were me I'd not worry about the chain unless I happened to be lucky enough to find one that made me feel that it was "exactly "right". If it isn't, you think of a "marriage" every time you handle the piece. I must add that we would not wear it, which makes matters easier: it is to us just a beautiful panel on its own - a great work of art. If one does wear it, the issue becomes of course much harder. I don't think the person who made the comment felt the panel by itself wasn't great - rather that the piece originally would have had a matching chain as well. I think it is a lovely piece as it, myself. A real find, I would have thought!
Thanks Joost! I am always conservative with estimate of age, but this pendant could well be earlier than I thought. I suspect that this item would have been used with a pectoral chain suspended from khlal pins at the front of the dress. In Djerba the rihanna chains are still the most popular type of chain used for pectorals. Sadly, I have been seeing many imitation rihanna now that do not appear to be made in the old way of flattening the links on an anvil. The rihanna chains I saw in the shops in Djerba appeared to be uniformly die cut with embossed patterns stamped onto the links. Having said this, I also observed that there are a few talented silver smiths still working in Djerba for those wealthy enough to pay a higher price. I have come to the conclusion that not everything of high quality in Djerba is old. There are still a handful of talented silver smiths working there.
When I posted it I had not yet seen the back. Also, it is interesting how the various comments here and the one on Facebook complement each other and how unified we all are in liking this! Well done, Edith. I am envious - chain or no chain (that does not matter much to me!).
A great piece indeed, Edith. I posted it on our Facebook EJ@A page which prompted someone knowledgeabe there to comment: "c'est un pendentif en argent émaillé de Djerba avec calligraphie datant à peu près du 19 ème siècle .Ne manque à ce beau pendentif que la chaine 'Rihana'".
Ayis, thanks for translating this for me! I always have trouble reading decorative script.
This is a fantastic piece! I will attest to the fact that the wirework is very difficult to do!
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Created by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 10, 2017 at 4:03pm. Last updated by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 17, 2017.
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