Teke Triangular Amulet Holders (MMA 2005.443.9, MMA 2017.693.a, b, MMA 2012.206.12a, b, and MMA 2014.714.12)
Every tumar (triangular amulet holder) exhibits the same basic features: a hollow cylinder divided into three to six compartments, usually set
with carnelians, open at one end to insert the rolled paper document and terminating in long chains with pendants. Within this format, tribal
variations are numerous. These four Teke pieces illustrate a range of scales and formats.
The largest (no. 2005.443.9) features large-scale openwork and a massing of carnelians, like other pieces new to the literature. This work exhibits a particularly skillful treatment of the openwork arabesque border at the bottom, a swirling motif at either end of the cylinder, and imposing terminals of palmettes/rams’ heads. The bells at the end of the chains are fitted with bands of decorative wire and set with small carnelians, a particularly refined touch.
The pair of pendants, no. 2017.693a. b, is distinguished by the wavy outline of the triangular element and by the use of a solid lower band as opposed to the more usual openwork with arabesques.
The pendants in no. 2012.206.12a, b are delicate and graceful, with brilliant polished stones, lacelike openwork, and skillfully executed chevron and arabesque decoration.
No. 2014.714.12 presents an intriguing example of an abstract design derived from a stylization of the arabesque. The undulating, seminaturalistic vegetal scroll is reinterpreted as a geometric design of wavy lines, comma-shaped voids, and pointed forms, punctuated by dots and minute circles.
Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2005; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 125.
Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 125, pp. 40, 41, 171-172, ill. figs. 1, 4, p. 171 (color).