Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

This silver Pashtun torque from Afghanistan is decorated with opposing snakes' heads for the protection of the wearer. The remainder of the unusual decoration follows a floral theme with flowers in pots and small gardens. Two tear-shaped turquoise cabochons are placed at each end of the engraving where the plain silver begins. From the bottom of the ring there are numerous small pendants: some in the form of decorative round stamped platelets and others in the form of leaves bearing verses from the Koran. The number of leaves suggests that this is a prayer for a successful pregnancy. Dimensions: 15x32cm. Around 1930.

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Comment by Thelma on January 26, 2017 at 11:30

Thank you very much for the photo, Betty. The pendants on your piece are a delight and very like mine. Since Sarah's perceptive comment about the character of the pendants - and with your photo - I've begun to see the piece in a different light. I had previously speculated that it might have been originally owned by a woman from a wealthy Pashtun family living in a town. But now there is an extra dimension: the Persian influence.  I suspect this might be seen not only in the choice of pendants but also in the unusual decoration of the torque itself - the pots in plants and gardens. How tantalising these pieces are. They tell a story to a  certain point but the end is always out of reach!

Comment by Betty on January 25, 2017 at 17:04

What a fabulous and rich torque, Thelma. Congratulations - a worthy addition to your wonderful collection. I agree with Sarah about the central pendants. I have an Iranian koran box with very similar ones attached:

Comment by Thelma on January 24, 2017 at 10:42

 Thanks Hillary and Peter. The last owner bought this necklace from an Afghan refugee at a street market in Peshawar in 1983. The necklace must have been taken to Pakistan when the family fled from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in about 1979. Many of those who fled were Pashtuns They were given aid by the Pakistani government and settled in camps just outside Peshawar.

Comment by Thelma on January 24, 2017 at 10:31

Thanks Sarah. Yes, you are right. Both Farsi and Pashto are written in a modified Arabic script. I was hoping someone would help me identify the verse. But I understand it is quite difficult to read the calligraphy.

Comment by Peter Hoesli on January 24, 2017 at 4:37
A gorgeous piece Thelma - Congratulations. Peter
Comment by SARAH CORBETT on January 23, 2017 at 21:15

That is a beauty. The central pendants are similar to some iranian ones with Farsi script.

Comment by Ethnic Embellishments on January 22, 2017 at 21:36


Comment by Thelma on January 22, 2017 at 14:18

Here is a photo of the back of the torque. The two opposing snakes seen on the front of the piece can also be found here, standing proud of the surface. It is as if the bodies of the snakes themselves are integrated in the silver. The remaining surface if decorated with simple chevrons culminating in a square at the centre. To begin with I thought this was a magic square but on closer examination, I think it is simply decorative.



Created by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 10, 2017 at 4:03pm. Last updated by Cordelia Donohoe Apr 17, 2017.

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