6466

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Moroccan Wedding Headdress or Diadem (Taounza) with Dowry Marks

Central Anti-Atlas, Morocco
19th-early 20th century

length: 64cm, weight: 165g

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Provenance

European art market

This diadem or forehead ornament comprises three rectangular silver plaques that have been decorated with engraving, niello and enamel work. Square red glass cabochons in silver box settings decorate the plaques. Suspended roundels and other pendants hang from the plaques and these too are decorated with niello as well as being interlinked by a wire chain.

The silver plaques are attached to a leather strap.

An almost identical headdress in Marrakech’s Dar si Said Museum is illustrated in Boele (2005, p. 147). Also see Amel (1998, p. 294), van Cutsem (2005, p. 20) and Rabate (2015, p. 70).

Such diadems were worn at important, ritual events such as weddings.

This example would have been presented by the groom’s family to the bride. There are tiny dots of red enamel that have been applied discretely to the headdress so that the piece could be identified as having come from the groom’s family. This was important for avoiding disputes in the event that the marriage was unsuccessful. In that event, dowry items given to the bride would be returned to the groom’s family. As such, this piece has significant historical interest.

The example here is in fine condition with ample signs of age and use. It is likely that the silver elements were used several times over on different leather straps as the straps themselves wore out.

References

Amel, P., et alSplendeurs du Maroc, Musee Royal de l’Afrique Central, Belgium, 1998.

Boele, V. (ed.), Morocco: 5000 Years of Culture, Kit Publishers/Lund Humphries, 2005.

van Cutsem, A., A World of Head Ornaments: Africa, Asia Oceania, America, Skira, 2005.

Rabate, M., Bijoux du Maroc: Du Haut Atlas a la Vallee du Draa, ACR Edition, 2015.

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