Exhibitions/ Art Object

Cordiform Pendant with Tassles

Object Name:
late 19th–early 20th century
Attributed to Central Asia
Silver; fire-gilded, with silver shot, decorative wire, cabochon and table-cut carnelians, slightly domed turquoises, and wool tassels
13 5/8 x 6 in. (34.6 x 15.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2009
Accession Number:
Not on view
Ornaments of the Kazakh tribe, among the most spectacular and striking Central Asian pieces to have become available since the 1980s, are thought to have been produced in Afghanistan as well as Central Asia. They exhibit a highly original decorative vocabulary and unusual technical features, yet are related to the well-identified Turkmen types. Their appeal is well illustrated by this powerful piece, never before published. One can imagine its almost totemic impact when worn on the back of a Kazakh woman. The work’s double-sided decoration consists of strips of decorative silver wire, a central carnelian ending in palmettes, and a flamelike border familiar from other Turkmen pieces in the collection. But the architectonic forms and pointed and curved shapes are atypical of Turkmen work, as is the use of black matter akin to niello and an elongated upper section. The elaborate shoulder shapes, the pointed cylinder at the top, and the large scale of the trefoils combine to give the work a graceful yet fierce presence, almost like an African mask, and create a crescendo of forms and colors. Technically, the use of pseudogranulation is a well-known feature of Kazakh jewelry.

Among known Kazakh pieces, which consist mainly of rings, cuffs, and narrow pectorals, this is one of the most imposing works, with its complex vocabulary of decoration and forms. Marilyn Wolf points out that the trefoil crenellations also appear in kaitag embroideries and Turkish kilims.[21] The work is made even more distinctive by its fine-quality stones and a gold sheen that contrasts with the granulation.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


21: Chenciner, Robert. Kaitag: Textile Art from Daghestan. London, 1993, pp. 104–5, pl. 28, and p. 174, cat. no. 854; and Davies, Peter. Antique Kilims of Anatolia. 2nd ed. New York, 2000, p. 45, fig. tt.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (by 2006–9; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 57.

Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 57, pp. 104-105, ill. p. 105 (color).

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