Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Amulet Holder

Object Name:
Amulet holder
late 19th–early 20th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran
Silver; fire-gilded and chased, with decorative wire, ram’s-head terminals, openwork, slightly domed cabochon and table-cut carnelians, turquoise beads, wire chains, and spherical bells
14 x 12 5/8 in. (35.6 x 32.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2005
Accession Number:
Not on view
Teke Triangular Amulet Holders (MMA 2005.443.9, 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.

The Teke pieces in this category 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 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).

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