Pair of Silver Earrings (Tezabiten or Tsabit)
Tuareg People, Saharan Africa
probably 19th century
diameter (approx): 6.8cm, combined weight: 131g
This visually striking pair of earrings with their clean, sheer lines are made of heavy, solid cast and chased silver. They were worn by Tuareg women in Niger, Mali and Algeria. They are round with faceted, polyhedral finials that have been chased with geometric patterns.
The Tuareg are semi-nomadic Berber people, known in the past as the ‘blue people’ because of the indigo-dye colored clothes they traditionally wore which often stained their skin. Historically, they were influential in the spread of Islam in North Africa and the adjacent Sahel region. Important traders, they controlled several trans-Saharan trade routes. The artisans charged with making jewellery were known as the
inadan among all Tuareg groups.
See Seligman & Loughran (2006, p. 169), Seiwert (2009, p. 96) and Hoek
et al (2004, p. 35) for related pairs.
The example here are in fine condition with excellent wear from age and usage.
Hoek, C., et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, Pepin Press, 2004.
Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2009.
Seligman, T.K., & K. Loughran (eds.),
Art of Being Tuareg: Sahara Nomads in a Modern World, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, 2006.
private collection, London.
Inventory no.: 4209
A related Yemen necklace on display in the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia.
(Photographed February 2017.)