Three Crowns (2006.544.5, 2006.544.6, and 2016.714.5)
These works, three “crowns” of similar construction in the Wolf collection, are not unlike pillbox hats: circular in shape, relatively low in height, and flat at the top. Inside, the caps were lined with quilted cotton. They illustrate a variety of organizational approaches to decorating the flat surface of the top and feature an array of patterns ranging from chased arabesques to appliqués in geometric form.
Cap 2006.544.5 features an elaborate and colorful arabesque design. The arabesque is set on a stippled ground, and more than 125 turquoise beads are used in combination with sixteen carnelians. This design is related to that of an embroidered pouch in the Wolf collection exhibiting a similar division of the surface into triangular compartments and an overall design of vegetal arabesques. In both this crown and no. 2006.544.6 we see the use of silver chains and ornaments that hang over the forehead; such elements were flattering but also acted as a veil, symbolizing the modesty and purity of the wearer. The hanging ornaments include a variety of shapes, roundels, leaves, and bells, which add variety and charm to the design and provide a pleasing musicality as the head is turned.
No. 2016.714.5 is remarkable for the elegance of its arabesque design, executed in fire gilding on a polished silver ground and enhanced by twenty-four carnelians in simple silver settings—a sophisticated design characteristic of Teke style. The top features a two-level palmette and a split-palmette design that emanates from the center. The graceful arabesque covers the entire surface in a balanced, symmetrical, and open design. The sides of the cap are decorated in a complementary manner, with a single row of similar palmettes in a reciprocal design whose scale has been adjusted to the width of the cap.
Three types of carnelians are skillfully used to articulate the design. On the top, a large round, flat stone indicates the center of the design, and eight smaller faceted table-cut carnelians are disposed in a circle, carefully placed in the middle of each palmette. On the sides, nineteen table-cut oval stones are placed in the lower row of palmettes.
Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]