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Ethnic Jewelry from the Middle East

Ethnic Jewelry is popular both with local residents and visitors to the Middle East. For those more aware of their qualities, such items represent both a visible tie to the past as well as a link to more imaginative conceptions of the "Orient" as projected by the media and Western artistic expression.

This special report is designed to encourage an understanding and appreciation of the quality and importance of ethnic Jewelry in the Middle East. Much of what was once available is now lost. More needs to be done to document and study what remains. In this way, we hope to preserve an important element in the cultural heritage of the area and to encourage the revival of an important cultural tradition.

Items pictured here was produced and worn primarily between the late 19th and mid 20th Century. Its form and decoration often derive from much earlier periods and has been passed along and adapted from one generation and one civilization to another.

Given the antiquity of the region and its rich cultural heritage - Pharonic, Greco-Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Persian, Ottoman, and European styles has all contributed to this process. In some cases, similar or identical items continue to be produced and worn both within its original cultural context as well as by outsiders - local elite and international visitors. In this way it continues the historical process of cultural evolution, transfer and adaptation.

The pieces illustrated here represents merely a fraction of the rich variety produced. It gives a sense of the diversity and tradition inherent in this venerable craft. Its intrinsic artistic and cultural appeal is apparent when either displayed or worn.

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Armlets/Bangles from the Arabian PeninsulaLarge hollow anklets from Egypt/SudanAmulet disk (hijab) from EgyptCharm case (hijab) from Jordan
Hinged anklet (natal) from OmanGold earrings from SyriaLarge pendant (tashsbat) from EgyptGilt silver necklace from Yemen
Gold 14 carat earrings (dandish) from EgyptLarge solid silver alloy anklets from EgyptPendant necklace (hijab/hirz) from OmanTwo large fish pendants from Egypt
Broad bracelet from North Africa coast, EgyptHeavy choker (kirdan) from PalestineAmulet with multiple symbols from PalestineSilver and coral necklace from Egypt

From "Reflections" Agenda 1998 by Roger Hardister

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