Pendant, 11th–12th century
Gold sheet, wire, granulation, and filigree; Diam. 2 3/8 in. (5.9 cm)
Purchase, Shamina Talyarkhan Gift, 2007 (2007.340)
This pendant belongs to the same set as a pair of earrings the Museum acquired in 2006. It is constructed of gold sheet, wire, and filigree; the details of the decoration, including the two confronted birds joined by their beaks, were achieved with openwork filigree and fine granulation. A number of mushroom-shaped prongs decorated with granulation protrude from the pendant. The stem of each prong is pierced, suggesting that strings of tiny pearls once decorated this jewel. This beautifully constructed object has an immediate, strong aesthetic appeal. On the one hand, the best technical and aesthetic comparisons for it and the earrings can be found in the Greater Iranian region. On the other, the iconography of the confronted birds, the box construction, and, especially, strings of pearls were popular in Fatimid Syria and Egypt. That the prongs, a prominent feature of both the pendant and the matching earrings, appear to be unique makes a firm attribution even more difficult.