Art/ Collection/ Art Object


11th–12th century
Attributed to Iran
Gold; chased and set with turquoise
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Everett Birch, 1981
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
Iranian turquoise, of which deposits were exploited in the mountains near Nishapur in Khorasan, has been known and valued since proto-historic times, and it was widely exported to the West. Precious and semi-precious stones were sometimes believed to have apotropaic properties. The polymath al-Biruni, who wrote a book on precious stones in the early 11th century, explains that turquoise was believed to dispel immediately the effect of the evil eye, i.e. curse, and that for this reason people wore it and necklaces were made for children.
In contemporary Persian poems poets often use the image of precious stones as metaphors of magnificence and to represent colors, whether they are describing flowers, natural settings or architectural monuments. Here, the shape is a development of an older one in use under the Parthians, as in one ring brought to light in the excavations at Masjid-i Sulayman in south-west Iran. Claws, as the small wedge-shaped ones here, are considered an innovation of the 9th-10th centuries.
Mr. and Mrs. Everett B. Birch, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (by 1974–81; gifted to MMA)
Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim. "Die Sammlung Patti C. Birch im Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim." In Schmuck aus Persien. Pforzheim: Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, 1974. no. 94, ill. pl. 94 (b/w).

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, and Manuel Keene. Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983. no. 34a, p. 65, ill. (b/w).

Related Objects


Date: first half 11th century Medium: Gold; filigree and granulation Accession: 57.88a–c On view in:Gallery 453

Jewelry Elements

Date: late 14th–16th century Medium: Gold sheet; worked, chased, and set with turquoise, gray chalcedony, and glass Accession: 1989.87a–l On view in:Gallery 455


Date: 11th–12th century Medium: Gold; granulation, set with pearls, turquoise and pink tourmaline Accession: 1980.541.3 On view in:Gallery 453


Date: 12th–13th century Medium: Gold; cast, engraved, granulation Accession: 1976.405 On view in:Gallery 453

"The Funeral of Isfandiyar", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Artist: Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020) Date: 1330s Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Accession: 33.70 On view in:Gallery 455