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Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Element of a Pectoral Ornament

Object Name:
Ornament
Date:
19th century
Geography:
Country of Origin Central Asia
Medium:
Silver; with stamped beading, silver shot, glass inlays over red foil, lacquer, or cloth, loop-in-loop chains, embossed pendants, and stamped fire-gilded decoration
Dimensions:
6 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. (17.1 x 9.5 cm)
Classification:
Jewelry
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2006
Accession Number:
2006.544.11
Not on view
Kazakh and Kazakh-style ornaments that were produced in Afghanistan in the 1970s were introduced to the field by German and Russian museum publications of that era.[45] Kazakh jewelry is well represented in the collection by a total of twenty-four works, including cordiform pendants, a pectoral, amulet holders, armbands, and rings. As noted in the discussion of the decorative style on page 33 in this volume, Kazakh jewelry relies on pseudogranulation and foil-backed glass to create a bold and original effect, and on forms that are distinctive but related to those of Turkmen jewelry.

Long vertical pendants such as cat. no. 117 in this volume (Promised Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf) were sewn onto fabric panels in a similar manner to the large lozenge-shaped Turkmen plaques. Kazakh pendants were composed of rectangular and polygonal hollow plaques linked together with silver chains and ending in leaf- and bell-shaped terminals, all elements that were also common in Turkmen jewelry. Kazakh pieces thus decorated the torso in the same way and used the same basic vocabulary of form as Turkmen jewelry.[46]

Authentic Kazakh works assigned to Central Asia and Kazakh-style ornaments from Afghanistan can be very close in workmanship, and it is difficult to differentiate between the two. According to Alfred Janata, the first Kazakh ornaments to appear on the market were rings, followed by cuffs and other types.[47] It should not be concluded that Kazakh works acquired by collectors since the 1970s are of inferior workmanship or recent date.

This detached element, for instance, provides clues to the dating and authentication of Kazakh jewelry through its quality and condition. The excellence of Kazakh craftsmanship is evident in the skilled decoration using delicate motifs in combination to form a dense pattern of ornament. This superb workmanship, combined with evidence of heavy wear on the back side of the ornament, the deformation and loss of portions of the metal, and the corrosion of the silver, suggests an early date for this piece, sometime in the late nineteenth century.
The practice of enhancing the brilliance of stones with foil backing originated in India, but it is commonly found in Central Asian urban jewelry, where paper, lacquer, and fabric backing were also used to deepen the color of stones,[48] and was adopted for Kazakh jewelry. According to Natalya Sychova, the Kazakh plaques were filled with a heavy white paste, a technique that had been used for sculpture in this region since the fourth century A.D.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]

Footnotes:

45. Janata, Alfred. Schmuck in Afghanistan. Graz, 1981, pp. 152–53, fig. 54.1; Sychova, Natalya. Iuvelirnye ukrasheniia narodov Srednei AziiIz i Kazakhstana, XIX–XX vekov: Iz sobraniia Gosudarstvennogo Muzeia Iskusstva Narodov Vostoka/Traditional Jewellery
from Soviet Central Asia and Kazakhstan from the Collection of the Museum of Oriental Art. Moscow, 1984, p. 124.

46. Kalter, Johannes. The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan. New York, 1983, p. 106, fig. 92, right.

47. Janata 1981 (note 45), p. 152.

48. ibid., p. 152; Sychova 1984 (note 45), p. 124; Kalter, Johannes, and Margareta Pavaloi, eds. Uzbekistan: Heirs to the Silk Road. New York, 1997, p. 287, have noted the influence of northern Indian and Nepalese jewelry traditions on Central Asian jewelry.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2006; gifted to MMA)
Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 118, p. 165, ill. pl. 118 (color).



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