Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cordiform Pendant

Object Name:
19th–20th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran
Silver, with decorative wire, cabochon and slightly-domed carnelians, and turquoises
12 3/8 x 6 3/8 in. (31.4 x 16.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2011
Accession Number:
Not on view
Three Cordiform Pendants with Silver Wire Decoration (MMA 2010.501.1, MMA 2008.579.1, and MMA 2011.584.1)

No. 2010.501.1 may be grouped with Rudolph’s category of cordiform pendants of mixed provenance related by their design of carnelians bordered by strapwork; no. 2008.579.1 belongs to Rudolph’s grouping of triangular “crowns”; and no. 2011.584.1 presents similarities with his Saryk[19] group. Taken together, the three pieces illustrate how a single element such as decorative silver wire could be used to great effect. In all three, the surface is left plain and the decorative effect is achieved with a limited number of stones and strapwork wrapping, which draws the eye to the pieces’ powerful form and geometric design.

In no. 2010.501.1 the only decorative motifs utilized in addition to the stones are two abstract forms resembling rams’ horns. These motifs, called gochak, are commonly found in Turkmen, Caucasian, and Turkish carpets. As in other examples in the Wolf collection, this group illustrates how Turkmen silversmiths drew inspiration from sources outside the parameters of traditional Turkmen ornament.

No. 2008.579.1 displays a remarkable, powerful design using only the simplest of decorative elements, inscribed stones, and strapwork. It is one of the most unusual and original pieces in the collection. The twelve carnelians bear inscriptions including the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, and Hazrat-i'Ali. The phraseology of 'Ali’s title indicates the engraver was of the Sunni faith.[20]

In no. 56 the ornament is reduced to its simplest form, with multiple rows of decorative silver wire, large bold carnelians, and geometric shapes (triangles, rectangles, and so on) creating a totemic effect.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


19. For no. 2010.501.1 see Rudolph, Hermann. Der Turkmenenschmuck: Sammlung Kurt Gull. Exh. cat., Museum Rietberg Zürich; Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. Stuttgart, 1984, pp. 219–23, figs. E44–53; for no. 2008.579.1 see ibid., pp. 224–25, figs. E58–62; for no. 2011.584.1 see ibid., pp. 226–28, figs. E63–68.

20. Abdullah Ghouchani, conversation with the author, August 2008.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (by 2006–11; gifted to MMA)
Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 56, p. 103, ill. pl. 56 (color).

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