Woman’s Mother-of-Pearl Inlaid Wooden Stilted Clogs with Pierced Silver Mounts (Qabqab)
height: 34.5cm, length (each): 23cm, width: 22cm
This pair of woman’s clogs (qabqab or nalin) is remarkable both for the profusion of the decoration and their extraordinary height.
Each comprises two high platforms, a sole, and a raised upper strap of pierced silver sheet lined with leather lining. The silver straps are decorated with fine and pierced scrolling flower and leaf motifs.
Each is carved from wood (possibly olive wood) and inset with numerous mother-of-pearl slithers arrayed in geometric patterns within bands of inlaid silver wire. This decoration is across all exposed wooden surfaces. It s unusually profuse (compare, for example with a lower pair in the British Museum – see the image below.)
Such clogs were designed for a wealthy woman so that when worn she would be elevated above a wet and dirty floor. Walking, however, required the assistance of an attendant, and the higher the clog, then the more attendants who would be needed, so particularly high clogs – such as those here, which must be among the highest available – became status symbols. Their Arabic name –
qabqab – derives from the sound they made when they were being used.
The pair here is in very good condition. There are no losses to the silver or to the mother-of-pearl inlay. There is an old, use-related chip to one edge of one the stilts on one of the clogs but this is minor.
Koc, A., et al, Istanbul: The City and the Sultan, Nieuwe Kerk, 2007.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3731
A pair of smaller and less elaborate qabqab currently displayed in the British Museum.