Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Armband, One of a Pair

Object Name:
Armband
Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Geography:
Country of Origin Central Asia or Iran
Medium:
Silver, chased, with gilt embossing, decorative wire, stamped beading, tablecut carnelians, and turquoise beads
Dimensions:
2 3/8 x 3 1/8 in. (6 x 7.9 cm)
Classification:
Jewelry
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2006
Accession Number:
2006.544.13a
Not on view
Bracelets and armlets, known as bilezik, were usually worn in pairs and decorated with several rows of semi-precious stones. While commonly worn on special occasions, wealthy women often wear them every day. This pair of bilezik is decorated with three rows of table-cut carnelians and two rows of turquoise beads at each end. The silver is decorated with an embossed and applied design and wire. The ends are bordered by motifs known as snake's head, or yilan bash.
Armbands (MMA 2013.968.4a, b, MMA 2012.206.5, MMA 2006.544.13a, b, MMA 2008.579.8a, .b, and 2011.584.10a, b)

As is the case with the cordiform pendants in the collection, these armbands illustrate a range of decoration, from arabesque to abstract. Three Teke armbands— one pair (no. 2013.968.4a, b) and one single (no. 2012.206.5)— are tapered, divided into three bands or registers, and embellished with fire gilding, arabesque decoration, and a dazzling display of carnelians. A pair of Yomut armbands (no. 2006.544.13a, b) features an equally lavish decoration focusing on surface patterning with fifteen carnelians and eighteen small turquoises each, while a pair of cuffs assigned to an as yet unidentified Turkmen tribe[8] (no. 2008.579.8a, .b) exhibits an unadorned polished silver surface and a modest decoration of scalloped registers in fire gilding. Another set of armbands (no. 2011.584.10a, b) is embellished with multiple bands and different decorative patterns, including delicate fretwork, floral motifs, and lozenges. This type of decoration can be traced back to the decorative vocabulary of nineteenth-century Central Asian urban workshops, a tradition that continued to flourish until recently in that area as well as in northern India.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]

Footnotes:

8. Rudolph, Hermann. Der Turkmenenschmuck: Sammlung Kurt Gull. Exh. cat., Museum Rietberg Zürich; Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. Stuttgart, 1984, p. 244, states that such armbands were made in different regions and by various tribes.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2006; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 150.

Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 150, pp. 193-194, ill. pl. 150 (color).

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