Exhibitions/ Art Object


Object Name:
late 19th–early 20th century
Country of Origin Central Asia or Iran
Silver; fire-gilded and chased, with openwork, decorative wire, and table-cut and cabochon carnelians
3 3/8 x 13 3/4 in. (8.6 x 34.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2006
Accession Number:
Not on view
Two Headbands (2006.544.10 and 2016.714.6)

Turkmen headbands made of linked plaques were lighter and more malleable than the high, stiff egme (high curved rectangular crowns). Attached to the side of the headdress by pointed triangular hooks[15] and worn with temple pendants and earrings, these headbands appeared in many styles and variants. Nos. 2006.544.10 and 2016.714.6 represent two of these types. The design of 2006.544.10 is austere and massive; it has great weight and balance, with minimal decoration. The design of 2016.714.6 is graceful and delicate, and the crowded though not haphazard pattern is contained by the geometric forms of the plaques.

No. 2006.544.10 is an example of owurme, a type of headband comprising single vertical elements—in this case displaying three rows of carnelians set in plain silver mounts—alternating with two stacked lozenge-shaped plaques. Visual interest is created by rows of flat, opaque oval carnelians alternating with rows of slightly domed, transparent marquise-shaped stones. Small variations in the shape of the stones, similar to the “mistakes” or color variations found in hand-woven Islamic carpets, remind us that this is an artwork, not a mass-produced object. The vertical plaques have pointed terminals and lateral elements whose shapes have been described both as floral forms and as rams’ horns or rams’ heads. This ambiguity of form is typical of Turkmen design, and both identifications may be valid.

Another headband type, the mangyalik, seen in no. 2016.714.6, was particularly favored by the Teke, and this example exhibits all the characteristic features of Teke style. Such headbands comprised five to seven rectangular plaques attached to the headdress with triangular hooks at the end, and sometimes (as here) with a hook at the center. This example features a highly stylized arabesque design, openwork decoration, and a veil of silver chains with lozenges and embossed pendants, held together by a horizontal thread. The headdress has a radiant effect, achieved by the sheen of gold and silver and the brilliance of numerous cabochon carnelians.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


15. See Firouz, Iran Ala. Silver Ornaments of the Turkoman. Tehran, 1978, pp. 20–23 and pls. 13, 25, and 37.
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. 13, p. 60, ill. pl. 13 (color).

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