Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

Pendant from Mahdia or Moknine

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 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.

Comment by ait ouakli on March 14, 2012 at 22:54

beautiful and interesting

Comment by Edith D on March 14, 2012 at 22:49

I like it too, but I walked past it in the window display 10 times before I bought it....because I knew it would be a pain to maintain.  I am having a terrible time deciding how to clean this!  I have already used a soft brush with mild surfactant, but I am afraid of damaging the enamel, which is deteriorated a bit.  Also, the silver is surprisingly thin (it is actually a very light piece with reinforcement on the back.)  It could explain why not many of these have not survived in complete necklaces!  Anyway, I hope to find an objects conservator next time I am the US who could offer some sage cleaning advice.  Mixed materials are frequently a headache once the object becomes antique!

Comment by Joost Daalder on March 14, 2012 at 20:29

Terrific! The more often I look at it, the more I like it. Very unusual, too. And your caption is informative.

Comment by Stefany Tomalin on March 14, 2012 at 17:12

very striking!

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