Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pectoral Ornament

Object Name:
late 19th–early 20th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran
Silver; fire-gilded and chased, with openwork and table-cut and slightly domed and cabochon carnelians
4 3/4 x 4 in. (12.1 x 10.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2008
Accession Number:
Not on view
Turkman jewelry is worn because of its protective powers, and its design is not merely guided by aesthetic preference but has specific references in a set of beliefs that predate the conversion of the Turkman tribes to Islam. This ornament is attributed to the Tekke tribe that once inhabited the Achal oasis in the southern part of present-day Turkmenistan, close to the northern border of Iran. While much of the jewelry made by the Turkman tribes combines silver, gilded silver, and carnelians, Tekke pieces are instantly recognizable from the gilded scrolling patterns covering much of their surface and the openwork scrolls used on many, but not all, pieces. The pair of confronted birds that form the main motif of this object is unusual, however. Although birds are commonly used in the jewelry of other Islamic cultures, a parallel for this piece in Tekke jewelry is nearly impossible to find. The form is also unusual. While the piece is similar to a headdress element, its overall size and proportion of height to width suggest that this was a pectoral ornament, probably worn strung together with several other ornaments that covered most of the chest.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2008; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 95.

"A Selection: 2008–2010." Recent Acquisitions vol. 68, no. 2 (Fall 2010). p. 59.

Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 95, pp. 142-143, ill. p. 142 (color).

Related Objects

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

Seal Ring with the name of Hajji Muhammad ibn Mahmud

Date: probably 16th century Medium: Bezel: lapis-lazuli; carved Shank: silver; worked, gilded, and with black inlay Accession: 41.160.280 On view in:Gallery 455

Strand of Beads

Date: 9th–12th century Medium: Carnelian Accession: 48.101.70 On view in:Gallery 453

Belt Fittings

Date: 8th–10th century Medium: Silver; cast, gilded Accession: 40.170.144 On view in:Gallery 453