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This superb pair of surprisingly large temporals or ear pendants would have been worn by or an aristocratic Khalkha Mongolian woman. Such women wore astonishing quantities of jewellery with elaborate headdresses of a type to rival that worn by the noble women of Lhasa. They were worn on either side of the head, attached to the headdress and from which multiple silver chains would have been attached.
Each comprises a thick rod of solid silver around which twisted silver wire has been wound and beneath this onto which seven coral beads each have been threaded along with a single malachite bead. The beads are spaced apart with silver mounts decorated with applied silver wire and granulation work.
Each rod terminates with a silver wire twist to form a loop at the lower end, and a large hook at the upper end.
The fashion in Mongolia was for light pink coral, whereas in Tibet, aristocratic women preferred dark red coral. Coral was believed by both to bring prosperity and luck, and even to prevent haemorrhages.
See a related but smaller and less elaborate pair in Beringen (2006, p. 219).
The Khalkha are the largest subgroup of the Mongol people. Aristocratic, married women particularly wore jewellery such as that shown here.
The pair here are sculptural, decorative and museum-worthy.
Beringen, J. et al, The Art of Silver Jewellery: From the Minorities of China, the Golden Triangle, Mongolia and Tibet – The Rene van der Star Collection, Skira, 2006.
Berger, P., & T. Tse Bartholomew, Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan, Thames & Hudson, 1995.
Borel, F., The Splendour of Ethnic Jewelry: From the Colette and Jean-Pierre Ghysels Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1994.
van Cutsem, A., A World of Head Ornaments: Africa, Asia Oceania, America, Skira, 2005.
Geoffrey-Schneiter, B., Bijoux des Toits du Monde de la Chine au Caucase, Foundation Baur, Musee des Artes D’Extreme-Orient/5 Continents, 2012.
Tsultem, N., Mongolian Arts and Crafts, State Publishing House, Ulan-Bator, 1987.