– scroll down to see further images –
This fine belt buckle is very much in the Ottoman and Ottoman Greek style, a style that was also worn in the Ottoman Balkans. Ottoman empire rulers and warriors wore belts and elaborate, over-sized buckles as symbols of their power and rank. The fashion for such ostentatious belts was largely over by the mid-19th century. This example, being smaller than some of the larger examples, most likely was intended for a woman.
Possibly it was made at Saphrampolis (Safranbolu), what was then a predominantly Greek town in northern Anatolia, or Trebizond (Trabzon), on the Black Sea coast of northeastern Turkey and with a similarly prominent Greek population. The sub-structure is made of copper which was then heavily plated with silver. The decorative elements are of silver filigree which have been applied to the sub-structure and then gilded (gold-plated.)
Formed as two halves of gilded (gold-plated) silver with pierced-work and filigree, the two halves and central section are suspended with dangles that terminate with pendant tear-drop plaques threaded with two small coral beads.
The two halves and central part are inset with large, domed, almond-shaped striated coral cabochons, plus foil-backed glass chips all in box settings (some losses to the glass in the central section).
See Kok (2007, p. 116) and Borel (1994, p. 120) for related buckles.
Borel, F., The Splendour of Ethnic Jewelry: From the Colette and Jean-Pierre Ghysels Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1994.
Elgood, R., The Arms of Greece: And her Balkan Neighbours in the Ottoman Period, Thames & Hudson, 2009.
Koc, A., et al, Istanbul: The City and the Sultan, Nieuwe Kerk, 2007.