Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Boy's Amulet in the Shape of Camels

Object Name:
late 19th–early 20th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran, possibly Yomut
Silver; fire gilded, with punching, chains, glass stones, and table cut carnelians
21 1/8 in. (53.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2009
Accession Number:
Not on view
Boys' Amulets: MMA 2009.530.3a, b, MMA 2010.501.6a, b, and MMA 2017.639.9

Turkmen children’s ornaments have a special charm, different from the more imposing works made for women; they are smaller and more whimsical. Amulets in various shapes and sizes, singly or in pairs, were sewn onto boys’ clothing, generally on the back but sometimes on a bib.[52] They illustrate the original function of ornament in Turkmen culture as protection against the evil eye and sickness, but also evoke the children’s world of play. Examples of the latter are animal-shaped amulets such as a pair of camels (nos. 2009.530.3a, b) or bow-and-arrow-shaped amulets (smaller versions of the works discussed under pectorals nos. 2010.501.7 and 2012.206.4 and headdress ornaments nos. 2016.714.2, .3, and 2009.530.5a, b). Square amulets surmounted by ram’s-horn terminals are among the most distinctive Turkmen ornaments because of the prominent terminals.

Nos. 2010.501.6a, b and 2017.639.9 present variations on this type. Both are square, inset with carnelians at the center, and embellished with appliqué or fire gilding. The ram’s-horn terminals are both playful and anthropomorphic; the latter characteristic is sometimes attributed to other Turkmen ornaments, particularly adamlik temple pendants.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


52. See Rudolph, Hermann. Der Turkmenenschmuck: Sammlung Kurt Gull. Exh. cat., Museum Rietberg Zürich; Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. Stuttgart, 1984, p. 72, figs. A1–A3; and Steffan, Roland, and Hans- Jörg Schwabl. Silberglanz und Kleiderpracht der Seidenstrassen: Sammlung Kurt Gull. Exh. cat., Volkerkundemuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2004, p. 143, fig. 97, for images of a bib and a boy’s coat respectively.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (by 2006–9; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 121.

Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 121, p. 168, ill. pl. 121 (color).

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