Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

Made from coin silver, very heavy bracelets from the Tihama coastal area in Yemen.

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Comment by Edith D on February 12, 2018 at 15:31

Thanks for your comments!  The Yemeni connection is certainly interesting.  When I worked in southern Yemen I visited a city called Tarim, which has a close connection to Indonesia since the families there have intermarried with people from Indonesia. The Indonesian members of these families would also send their sons abroad to the famous Koranic schools in Tarim.  No doubt these same families were passing jewelry along the trade routes, and now we have found the evidence for that in Richter and Carpenter’s book!

Comment by Alaa eddine SAGID on February 12, 2018 at 8:43

I have this book and i barely noticed this page.

Your remark is spot on regarding the Yemeni connection and i bet you had (or soon will) find a lots of the yemeni classical blacelets on offer and labelled as either Javanese or South Sumatra (Lampung) traditionnal "Gelang"! Some authors may suggest they were made locally but i suspect they were Yemeni exports for the global market (found all over the muslim world actually) or private gifts from yemeni merchants to their local wives (also possible dowry)

Richter and carpenter here are definetely making a small omission and could have easily found what is all about, for they must know about the Yemen/Indonesia link but more often than not the focus of their researches (Indonesia AND South East Asia) is so dense and massive that it is normal they would not bother with more far flung data!

Comment by Edith D on February 9, 2018 at 6:58


What a surprise to find these bracelets listed as “Indonesian” from Timor!....This description is from Richter and Carpenter’s book “Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago “.  I think they are only partially correct, and I am certain that they are correct in stating that these are used and traded in Timor.  There is a long established trade connection between southern Yemen and Indonesia.  However, I doubt that these were made in Indonesia.

Comment by Edith D on March 2, 2013 at 20:00

Thanks for the comments, Harald and Ayis.  I love these but do not think anyone will ever wear them again.  They sit on my shelf as pieces of sculpture.  I am afraid that I could accidentally clunk my toddler in the head with these if I actually wore them!

Comment by Harald on March 2, 2013 at 19:45

Gosh Edith, that is heavy. I can imagine you wonder about wearing a pair like that!

For Ayis, the ring wearing Omani man are Muslim.  

The man of the towns did wear crossed bandoliers or one bandolier consisting of little, hollow boxes. You also find elbow-rings in different styles and sometimes one earring. From the belt there may dangle a little perfum bottle, beautiful purses, kholpots and tweezers.

Comment by Edith D on March 2, 2013 at 18:31

I weighed these....together they are 620 grams.

Comment by Alaa eddine SAGID on March 2, 2013 at 9:55

Generally in muslim countries adornment is forbidden to men, bar a finger ring and of course fighting, arms, cavalry and smoking accessoires maybe a couple of bodycare tools as well!

I say generally, but exceptions exist but they are rare

Comment by Harald on March 1, 2013 at 23:08

Patricia, I do not know if the man in Yemen did wear bracelets. In Oman some did. The bracelets above are not extremely heavy, our pair has a weight of 360 grams, not to bad for wearing. We wonder, like you, how people did wear such a lot of heavy jewelry and still do all their work. In fact in a lot of cultures they do. Think about heavy jewelry that can not be taken off because they were put on when very young and stayed there all their lives. For instance on a lot of pictures, taken in the old days, from woman in Morocco they wear those very heavy bracelets while working in the fields. Or the Hmong woman who can not get rid of all those rings around their necks. The extremely heavy anklets in Africa etc. 

Comment by Eva Baby on March 1, 2013 at 23:00

Harald, I removed my comment. It is better not to talk about this in public.

Comment by Patricia Deany on March 1, 2013 at 13:01

Just for my personal information,is it common for men to wear bracelets in Yemen and, if so, are there typical men's bracelets? I am not surprised in the least that women may wear very, very heavy things simply because of the single Reshaida bracelet that I own -- but I can't see this as an everyday use thing, I mean how can you clean, cook, haul water, set up tents and tend to children if you are , in fact, wearing bracelets that weigh so much. Does anybody know if, in fact, women wear these very heavy things on a daily basis?

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