Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

This is an older version of higher quality than similar pendants on my hila. It is silver with enamel inlay. This type of pendant was also used on a type of necklace from the same region called a Sharka Qamra.

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Comment by Edith D on September 29, 2017 at 2:23

I have just realized that the shape of this piece is similar to the hila.  Coincidence???

Comment by Edith D on September 28, 2017 at 13:37
Thanks so much for this Jose! I have been convinced for a long time that the Punic, Roman, Fatimid and other influences on Tunisian jewelry have been ignored. Instead most collectors automatically apply the term "Berber" to every piece of jewelry. Are there Berber influences? Sure! But there are just as many of the other influences just mentioned. And I am seeing more and more evidence of cultural cross pollination with other parts of the Mediterranean. Thanks again for sharing! Don't worry about the last Spanish class was a while ago, but that's why someone invented Google Translate!
Comment by Jose M. Pery on September 28, 2017 at 11:41

Indeed, Edith.

Here you can find a link to a museum study (I am afraid it is Spanish ....) on the jewellery worn by the Lady of Baza and the Lady of Elche, another Iberian sculpture of V c (BC). It confirms the Phoenician influence. Remember that Cartagho was originally a Phoenician commercial outpost. The study does also mentions similar pieces found in some other parts of Europe and North Africa.

I am also loading some pictures showing some hoards circa VI-V c (BC) found in Spain showing pieces of jewellery with Phoenician influence/origin (Tesoro de la Aliseda and Tesoro del Carambolo).


Comment by Edith D on September 28, 2017 at 8:55


I have been looking for the ancestry of this piece in order to understand its connection to Tunisian culture.  The photo above is of a 4th Century BC sculpture called "The Lady of Baza."  It is from Iberia (present day Spain).  This area of Spain was part of the Carthaginian empire when this sculpture was created.  Look at the pendants this lady is wearing.  The ones on the bottom tier of her pectoral look familiar, don't they?

Comment by Edith D on August 12, 2017 at 2:34

If one was to wonder about the origin of this motif, my guess is that it could be related to the Asherah "tree of life."  This has Babylonian roots, but was also known to the Phoenicians (who were related to the Carthaginians in North Africa).  The goddess Asherah was a consort to the god Baal, and thus a forerunner to the Tanit and Astarte goddesses.  A possible relationship between the Asherah tree symbols and the above pendant motif would certainly explain its leafy shape.

Comment by ait ouakli on March 15, 2012 at 8:39

@ edith and Joost.   i agree with you in what you wrote about this pendent. more i look at, more i m enjoying details. i admit that is the first time i see so beautiful one and good in this ship like this. the red , green and blue are typical tunisia.hier is the blue too dark for a raison ( edith, it looks verry good,as joost said, do not do more.maybe the blue looks durty for you but it is not )

what do you think about the turquoise ??

Comment by Joost Daalder on March 15, 2012 at 7:24

Thank you for that reference, Edith. I would certainly be interested in a pendant like yours. Essentially, I collect "from the gut". I need the desire for ownership, strongly felt, first. It then, if the article is available, becomes a matter of intellect, to check and to guard one against regrets. In other cases, like this one, I'd first have to come across a similar piece, and the sequence would still be the same. This does appeal to the gut/emotions first, and the intellect second. In collecting, I never collect from the intellect first of all, since it is primarily emotional satisfaction which I seek. If that is missing it does not matter whether the article is "important", "rare", "highly esteemed", etc. Truus is just the same. We must first of all really love the piece - and yours certainly would qualify (for me - Truus hasn't seen it yet).

Comment by Edith D on March 15, 2012 at 6:49

Thanks Joost!  By the way FYI, similar pendants appeared in a small book called "Bijoux Tunisiens Formes et Symboles" bu C. Sugier.  It is out of print, but I have noted a number of used copies available on Amazon.

Comment by Joost Daalder on March 15, 2012 at 2:27

I posted this on our Facebook page "Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment" some hours ago, and several of the people who understand what they are seeing have already clicked to show their admiration. I expect quite a bit more to come through as yet. It is most unusual, and truly beautiful.

Comment by Joost Daalder on March 15, 2012 at 2:24

Edith, - What you have done is almost certainly enough in the meantime, as you would have removed a surface layer of dust or whatever you needed to, whereas you may have to accept leaving a residue as part of the ageing process and because going further might both affect that "look" AND the actual enamel, which you certainly want to preserve. What I see on the photo looks great, so if it still has anything like that look I would not worry about any further action, EXCEPT that I'd probably not expose this to the air ongoingly, but preserve it in tissue paper in a cardboard box, and in a drawer. Don't put on any more liquid, and make sure the object is quite dry before you store it. Check it from time to time, and, before you do any more than you have done, get informed advice - and I mean REALLY informed! It is a truly great piece, and you do want to preserve it as such, but often too much action in cleaning etc is worse than leaving the object "as is". It in essence looks as though  it is in fine condiiton. Maintenance should be virtually nil, if you preserve it in a box. If you want to keep it in the open air, then yes, there would indeed be a problem. That is why I would not do that, myself.



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