– scroll down to see further images –
This unusual and rare unicorn-like item known as a tantur, was worn mostly by Druze women and some Maronite women in the mountain regions of Lebanon as a headdress. It is very tall, conical and made of engraved high-grade silver. It flares at the top to a mostly flattened surface engraved with a flower motif.
The sides are engraved with stylised bird motifs, tree-of-life motifs, cypress tree motifs and bands of geometric patterns.
Married women wore the tantur fixed to the top of their heads and often with a silk or muslin scarf or veil over the structure which fell to the shoulders. Higher ranked women wore a gold tantur, lower ranked women wore a silver tantur, and those of the lowest ranks wore tanturs made from wood or copper.
Visitors to the mountainous regions of Lebanon reported towards the end of the 18th century that they would be presented by their husbands on their wedding days and that the women who wore tanturs almost never took them off other than to sleep.
The fashion to wear a tantur appears to have largely died out by the 1860s.
The example here is in a fine, stable condition. It has a superb patina and obvious, considerable age. The lower section on one side has an old repair – the tantur is of such age that it seems to have been worn through, but was repaired with another sheet of silver being attached to the interior to fill out the hole. This is an extraordinary and rare relic.