Enquiry about object: 6897

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    Egyptian Silver Fish Fertility Pendant (Samaka)

    Abu el-Numrus, Egypt
    circa 1913

    length: approximately 18cm, width (of the largest fish): 11cm, weight: 100g



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This unusually large and complex pendant or pectoral ornament comprises a large, hollow fish ornament from which are suspended six more silver fish as well as chains of crescent-shaped filigree pendants and faux silvered coins. The coins are of silvered stamped brass, each with an Ottoman tugra (emblem of the Ottoman sultan).

    Coins and fish are typical symbols of plenty and prosperity. Fish pendants were particularly favoured in Egypt’s Abu el-Numrus region, and most probably were made by local Egyptian Jewish jewellers.

    The largest and lowest-most ‘coin’ is stamped on both sides with the words ‘medallion for Egyptian ladies’ and includes the date 1913. It is based on the 4 Ducats coin of Austria issued under Emperor Franz Joseph (1848-1918).

    The two larger fish are set on both sides with eyes of blue glass. The three filigree crescents also are each set with a single blue glass cabochon.

    Necklaces from Egypt with similar filigree crescent pendants, faux coins and silver fish are illustrated in Fahmy (2007).

    The example here is in a fine, stable condition. It is unusual to see one of these pendants with so many fish.


    Fahmy, A., Enchanted Jewelry of Egypt: The Traditional Art and Craft, The American University in Cairo Press, 2007.

    Seiwert, W.D., Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2009.

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