6034

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Rare Andalusian-Moroccan Gold & Emerald Forehead Ornament (with a Brooch Conversion)

Northern Morocco
19th century or earlier

diameter: 5.5cm, weight: 25.31g

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Provenance

UK art market

This beautiful, rare circular ornament is from northern Moroccan and shows much European-Andalusian influence. Most probably it would have adorned a head or forehead covering to which it would have been sewn. It has since been converted to a (highly wearable) brooch.

The item has been cut from a thick sheet of high-carat gold. Six pale emerald cabochons surround a central large, rectangular pale emerald cabochon. Ten stones, possibly rubies, surround the central emerald.

Each of the six surrounding emeralds is in a box setting that is mounted on a component in the form of a stylised tulip. This is suggestive of both Ottoman-Islamic influence, and European influence. Indeed, the item itself shows strong Andalusian-Spanish influence. Spain in turn was heavily influenced by the Umayyad conquest in 711AD of the southern Iberian peninsula and subsequent occupation. Andalusian styles also relate to jewellery styles and techniques of the later Renaissance in Western Europe. The form of the jewel here is not unlike a jewel belonging to the Duke of Lorraine in 1592 and illustrated in Evans (1951, p. 112).

The techniques used are early giving a likely dating of earlier than the 19th century. The plaque for example is saw pierced: the fine outer borders have not been achieved by soldering on gold wire, but by carefully cutting the entire plaque from a single piece of sheet gold. The central gold roundel has been attached to the outer border not by soldering but by using fine lapets whereby the gold of the edging of the central panel has been carefully cut and folded over the inner rim of the border to hold the two together.

The brooch pin which is a later attachment is itself handmade and probably European. It, itself, could be two hundred years old.

A related example in gold and also set with emeralds is illustrated in Rabate & Goldenberg (1999, p. 24). Another version also is illustrated on page 211.

The example here is in fine condition and is wearable.

References

Evans, J., A History of Jewellery 1100-1870, Faber and Faber, 1951.

Rabate, M., & A. Goldenberg, Bijoux du Maroc, Edisud, 1999.

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