Gorgeous vintage pendant from the Turkman peoples of Central Asia. This particular pendant has a light gold wash, known as "fire gilding", original lovely carnelian stones, and high silver content dangles hanging from the bottom. Carnelian stones were believed to protect the wearer from illness and death and the stones on this piece appear original and in very good condition. The tassels are particularly lovely on this piece and are likely high quality coin silver.
This pendant is not for the faint of heart -- measuring 5 inches wide by 4 1/4 inch tall, not include the tassels. The tassels add an additional 3 1/4 inches long. It is in excellent condition and could be worn as is, displayed on a wall, or added to your own jewelry creations.
Note that the loop on right side of the piece was replaced with a later wire, but it's a pretty minor problem. There are also some minor scratches and the bezels around the stone are slightly rough. Still, a beautiful piece of folks art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has an excellent history of the Turkman peoples and the role of jewelry in the culture of these Central Asian nomads:
The Met explains that "Pieces of carnelian, a bright red colored stone, are popular because they are believed to protect the wearers from illness and death."
Although nominally Sunni Muslim, the Turkmen kept many of their pre-Islamic customs and beliefs, which were often embodied in the jewelry they made and wore. Turkmen silver jewelry carried deep symbolic meanings and often marked an individual’s passage from one stage of life to another. From a very early age, a woman started wearing jewelry whose shapes and materials were believed to ensure her ability to bear healthy children later in life. The amount of embellishments a girl wore increased as she approached marriageable age. Once she had had her first children, and her fertility had been established, the amount of jewelry she received and wore decreased. In addition, silver jewelry believed to ward off evil and illness was worn by men, women, and especially by children.
Jewelry was a significant financial investment, as it was handcrafted from precious materials. There were cases when, in times of dire need, a woman would part with her jewelry in order to help the survival of the tribe. Significant in size and weight, Turkmen jewelry objects were made of silver, decorated with semi-precious stones, and sometimes gilded for an added color effect and value.
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