A Pair of Engraved & Open-work Silver with Glass & Enamel Cloak Fasteners (Fibula)
Berber People, Western Anti-Atlas, Morocco
early 19th century
height: 23cm, width: 13.8cm, combined weight: 315g
The fibulas used to attach cloaks across a woman’s shoulders have the appearance of having been cut from flat sheets of silver and drilled countless times so that they are filled with tiny holes, but in fact they are constructed by soldering together many dozens of tiny silver tubes until the fibulas are built up to their entirety. Triangular in shape, they have a pointy piece of long silver at the top which functions as a pin, a movable ring which helps secure the fibula to the textile beneath and an eyelet at the other end through which a chain can be looped. Other than the dozens of tiny tube holes, each fibula or fastener is decorated with larger areas of open-work in the shapes of geometric stylised multi-petalled flowers, and then at the centre, is a conical protuberance decorated with alternating bands of enamel.
The enamelling comprises yellow and green which is typical of enamel work of Tiznit in the High Atlas Mountains, whereas enamel work that features blue, yellow and green is more typical of the enamel work of the Great Kabylia region of nearby northern Algeria. The Berber dominate both areas.
The pair have a good patina and plenty of wear consistent with use and significant age.
Similar pairs are illustrated in van der Star (2004, p. 27), Prolongeau-Wade (2008, p. 173) and Splendeurs du Maroc (1998, p. 255).
Mourad, K., et al, Arts et Traditions du Maroc, ACR Edition, 1998; Splendeurs du Maroc, Musee Royal de l’Afrique Central, Belgium, 1998; Rabate, M & A. Goldenberg, Bijoux du Maroc, Edisud, 1999; van der Star, R. et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, The Pepin Press, 2004; and Prolongeau-Wade, S., Voyage au Pays des Fibules, Regard, 2008.
Inventory no.: 1070