Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cordiform Pendant

Object Name:
19th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran
Silver; fire-gilded and chased, with decorative wire and table-cut carnelians
11 7/8 x 8 3/8 in. (30.2 x 21.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2007
Accession Number:
Not on view
This very rare dorsal ornament is one of only three published examples of single cordiform pendants of complex structure. However, as Rudolph has correctly noted, new works are constantly emerging and further examples may eventually appear.[11] The construction is original and inventive: more elaborate than a single cordiform pendant, it features connecting units in cordiform and polygonal shapes that dramatically increase the scale and apparent importance of the pendant. This complexity has led to some controversy in the dating of the piece. Rudolph sees the large scale as evidence of a recent trend and therefore dates the work accordingly, while Linda Pastorino, recalling Eichwald’s account of large-scale pieces among the Yomut in 1725, dates a comparable Yomut work to the first half of the nineteenth century.[12] Further research into the date of introduction of the decorative silver wire technique used here may provide further clues. The piece is typically Teke, with a very stylized arabesque (although the leaf/palmette is still recognizable). Decorative silver wire strips are prominently used, contributing to the striking design of three cordiform shapes on the body of the piece as well as the connecting cordiform elements. The result is a powerful work where the fire-gilded design is full of movement and vitality, barely contained by the strapwork of decorative wire, a well-known approach in Islamic design to organizing the surface.[13]

Finally, the piece’s splendor is enhanced by the sixteen table-cut carnelians. This work is a remarkable testament to the skill of the Turkmen
silversmith in placing the stones so they enhance the decorative effect of the piece rather than overloading it.

Although technically the work belongs in the single cordiform category, the elaboration of forms is related to the triple cordiform group (see especially no. 2014.714.1).

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


11. Rudolph, Hermann. Der Turkmenenschmuck: Sammlung Kurt Gull. Exh. cat., Museum Rietberg Zürich; Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. Stuttgart, 1984, p. 208.

12. ibid., p. 238; Pastorino, Linda. Identity, Beauty, Rank and Prestige: Necklaces from Sumeria to Hawai’i. Exh. cat., Sinkiang Gallery. Paris, 2005, pp. 48–49, fig. 32.

13. Baer, Eva. “Ornament and Pattern V: Islamic Lands.” In The Dictionary of Art. Oxford, 1996, p. 560.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2007; 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. 49, pp. 94-95, ill. p. 95 (color).

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