Silver & Gold Necklace with Amulet Boxes & Coral Beads (Hunkun)
Oman, probably Nizwa
19th-early 20th century
width: 30cm, height: 38cm, total weight: 806g
This spectacular example of a type of necklace known as a hunkun is probably from Nizwa, but related examples were also worn by the Bedu women of the Wahiba Sands, as well as other tribes (Rajab, 1998, p. 43). It is the finest example of this type of Omani necklace that we have seen, published or otherwise.
It comprises a stiff, cotton-bound substrate, four amulet boxes (
hirz) inset with stamped gold panels, two of which are decorated with pendant chains and silver squares; large silver beads; multiple strands of tiny silver beads; and a splendid cross-bare section which comprises dark red beads, spiky silver beads wrapped with hammered gold sheet, two beautiful coral beads and a large central bead wrapped in gold.
It is likely that such a necklace would have been typically worn in connection to weddings and other important celebrations.
The necklace is in excellent, wearable condition. Each element has fine patina, consistent with age and the item having been worn.
Hawley, R., Omani Silver, Longman, 1978.
Hawley, R., Silver: The Traditional Art of Oman, Stacey International, 2000.
Rajab, J.S., Silver Jewellery of Oman, Tareq Rajab Museum, 1998.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3998