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Turkmen Parcel-Gilded Silver Amulet Pendant with Carnelian (Kumusch-doga)

Turkmen People, Central Asia
19th century

length: 24cm, width: 19cm, weight: 514g



UK art market

This large pectoral pendant or breast plate of partial fire-gilded silver and carnelian stones in box settings would have been worn by a Tekke Turkmen woman. It would have contained verses from the Koran and so served as a protective talisman. (The architectural form of the amulet suggest that it is intended to ‘house’ something.) Reportedly, some women would even wear such a device during childbirth so that its protective powers would continue to operate.

The amulet is made of thick sheet silver. The front has been part-decorated with mercury-fire gilding, pierced sections, chasing and with bands of applied filigree. Large carnelian plaques have been added in box settings.

Fifteen pendant strands of plaques and bell finials are suspended from the amulet. Minor differences in the symmetricity of the strands suggest that over time some have been re-ordered or replaced.

Related examples are illustrated in Hoek (2004, p. 86), Seiwert (2009, p. 635), Leurquin (2003, p. 193), and Borel (1994, p. 125).

Silver loops at the top of the amulet allow it to be worn from the neck.


Borel, F., The Splendour of Ethnic Jewelry: From the Colette and Jean-Pierre Ghysels Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1994.
Geoffroy-Schneiter, B., Asian Jewellery: Ethnic Rings, Bracelets, Necklaces, Earrings, Belts, Head Ornaments, Skira, 2011.
Hoek, C., et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, Pepin Press, 2004.
Leurquin, A., A World of Necklaces: Africa, Asia, Oceania, America from the Ghysels Collection, Skira, 2003.
Seiwert, W.D., Jewellery from the Orient: Treasures from the Bir Collection, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2009.

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