Exhibitions/ Art Object

Amulet holder

late 19th–early 20th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran
Silver; fire-gilded and chased, with applied decoration, silver beads, and table-cut carnelians; mounted on leather
17 7/8 x 1 7/8 in. (45.4 x 4.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2010
Accession Number:
Not on view
Flat folded leather pouches with wide straps were also used to house amulets or prayer scrolls and are frequently described in the trade as Qur’an holders, although they are clearly too flat to house an entire Qur’an. The term used to describe them, haikal, originally designated an idol, and appears to indicate that the wearing of amulet holders can be traced to pre-Islamic periods and practices. The pouches were decorated with a flat plaque in front, embellished with carnelians, fire gilding, chasing, and openwork. The straps bore similarly decorated fire-gilded plaques and studs. Hermann Rudolph has noted that this category of ornament was sometimes mistakenly described as a horse trapping, due to the extensive use of silver studs common to both categories. He has convincingly argued that the construction of the straps with more plaques on one side than the other clearly shows that they were intended to be folded over each other and worn across the chest in pairs,[65] a tradition of female ornament described by nineteenth-century travelers and documented by contemporary photographs.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


65. Rudolph, Hermann. Der Turkmenenschmuck: Sammlung Kurt Gull. Exh. cat., Museum Rietberg Zürich; Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin. Stuttgart, 1984, pp. 195–95
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (by 2006–10; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 147.

Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 147, p. 189, ill. pl. 147 (color).

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