Pectoral Ornament, One of a Pair, Silver; fire-gilded with openwork, wire chains, embossed pendants, bells, and table-cut carnelians.

Pectoral Ornament, One of a Pair

Object Name:
late 19th–early 20th century
Attributed to Iran or Central Asia
Silver; fire-gilded with openwork, wire chains, embossed pendants, bells, and table-cut carnelians.
H. 6 1/8 in. (15.6 cm)
W. 4 in. (10.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2007
Accession Number:
Not on view
Floral Pectoral Ornaments (MMA 2015.648.9a, b, MMA 2016.714.8, MMA 2007.497.5, and MMA 2007.497.7a, b)

These four works may at first seem foreign to the Turkmen design tradition, due to their floral shape and their resemblance to the European brooch. Certainly, except for a pectoral from the Linden-Museum collection comparable to no. 2015.648.9a, b, which is described as “rare”
by Kalter in 1984, this type is new to the literature. The Linden-Museum piece was acquired in the 1960s and thus may serve as a terminus
ante quem for the group (see photograph on p. 159 in this volume).[40]

It may also be argued that the floral form is actually indigenous and derived from the lobed medallion, which originated in China. The lobed medallion is ultimately the model for the gul motif of Turkmen carpets, from which it was adopted by the Turkmen silversmith.[41] Nevertheless, it is also possible that Russian influences were at play here and that these works represent another hybrid Turkmen type attributable to the increased transmission of designs and artistic exchange in Central Asia in the later nineteenth century.

No. 2015.648.9a, b is probably closest in design to better-known types of floral clasps illustrated by catalogue nos. 109 and 110 in this volume. Not only does the pair have the same subdued color scheme and sophisticated use of stones, but the shape of the palmette and the cross form are similar to no. 110 and no. 109 respectively. The increased stylization, larger scale, and reduction in detail, coupled with the horizontal linking of the chains and pendants, relate this pair also to the work from the Linden-Museum (see above).

Nos. 2016.714.8 and 2007.497.5, which are closely related stylistically, present exceptionally graceful variations on the floral type based on four palmettes. The surface embellishment of the pieces, which includes hatching the ground to give it shading and texture, sophisticated color harmonies, and polishing the stones, contributes to the impression of luxury conveyed by these pieces.

No. 2007.497.7a, b presents a more stylized but still recognizably floral form, perhaps closest to the Chinese lobed medallion prototypes.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


40. Kalter, Johannes. The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan. New York, 1983, p. 124, fig. 116, and director’s foreword, p. 7.

41. Mackie, Louise W., and Jon Thompson, eds. Turkmen Tribal Carpets and Traditions. Exh. cat., Textile Museum. Washington, D.C., 1980, pp. 61–63.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2007; 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. 114, pp. 160-161, ill. p. 161 (color).

Denny, Walter B. How to Read Islamic Carpets. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 124, ill. fig. 112 (color).