Enamelled Silver Cuff Bracelet set with Coral
Berber People, Algeria
height: 8cm, internal diameter: 6.2cm, weight: 200g
This single silver cuff bracelet is richly embellished with applied silver plaques, applied silver wire and granulation work; as well as copious enamels work in mustard yellow, blue, and green; and large original red coral cabochons.
The bracelet is hinged so it can open wider allowing it to be more easily put on. A long silver pin keeps the hinge closed.
Most probably this was the products of the Beni Yenni group of Berber people of the Great Kabylia whose enamelled jewellery became well known in the Maghreb.
The Great Kabylia is a mountainous region in northern Algeria inhabited by Berbers. The local people have long made a living from pressing olive oil and drying figs. These anklets belong to a stylistic grouping of Maghreb silver ornaments distinguished by their enamelling. Another area for similar production was the West Anti-Atlas in Morocco, also inhabited by the Berber people.
Bracelets and anklets such as these would have been worn at important ritual events such as weddings and also at festivals.
A related pair is illustrated in van der Star (2004, p. 25). A similar pair produced by Berber craftsmen around the southern Moroccan city of Tiznit is illustrated in Mourad (1998, p. 174.)
The example here is in excellent condition. The coral is large-sized and authentic (rather than being of some resin substitute. The bracelet is very wearable. Originally, a chain would have been attached to the eyelet of the pin and then to the rim of the bracelet; it absence makes the bracelet more wearable in a contemporary manner.
Le Fur, Y., Musee du Quai Branley: The Collection, Flammarion, 2009.
Mourad, K. et al, Arts et Traditions du Maroc, ACR Edition, 1998.
van der Star, R.
et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, The Pepin Press, 2004.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3993