Few examples of medieval Islamic jewelry survive, leaving scholars to rely on depictions of jewelry in manuscript paintings of the period for evidence of their appearance. Imagery from Ilkhanid and later period painting reveals that necklaces sharing some details with the jewelry elements shown here were worn by women in the fourteenth to sixteenth century in Iran and Central Asia.
The dating and attribution of gold jewelry from the Islamic world presents numerous challenges to scholars and art historians. Hardly any of the extant examples are dated or bear inscriptions. Furthermore, because of their inherent value, gold and other precious metals were melted down and reused in times of economic crisis. As a result, few examples survive, complicating research and comparative analysis, as in the case of these necklace elements. The basic form and arrangement of similar necklaces are, however, depicted in paintings of women from the late fourteenth to the late sixteenth century in Iran and Central Asia.
Two medallions in the necklace — one a large circular medallion pendant with lobes, and the other a smaller fan-shaped piece — are both of box construction. The large central pendant is inset with a cartouche of gray chalcedony with a turquoise bead at its center, surrounded by turquoise, chalcedony, and glass beads of different sizes and shapes. The fan-shaped element, also inset with a variety of gems and glass, lacks a large cartouche. The two are joined by ten small cartouche-shaped elements, each with a central turquoise. The backs of both of the larger elements are chased and punched with animal motifs of Far Eastern inspiration, including gazelles and quadrupeds attacked by lions, while the fan-shaped medallion has a number of small loops, presumably to hold a delicate string of pearls.
Maryam Ekhtiar in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
[ Habib Anavian, New York, until 1989; sold to MMA]
New York. Forbes Galleries. "Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry: Exquisite Jeweled Objects from the Cradle of Civilization," September 22, 2008–December 31, 2008, p. 131.
Chicago. Field Museum of Natural History. "Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry: Exquisite Jeweled Objects from the Cradle of Civilization," February 13, 2009–June 14, 2009, p. 131.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry: Exquisite Jeweled Objects from the Cradle of Civilization," April 19, 2010–July 25, 2010, p. 131.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 47, no. 2 (1988–1989). pp. 10-11, ill. p. 10 (color).
Rossabi, Morris, Charles Melville, James C.Y. Watt, Tomoko Masuya, Sheila S. Blair, Robert Hillenbrand, Linda Komaroff, Stefano Carboni, Sarah Bertelan, and John Hirx. The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353, edited by Stefano Carboni, and Linda Komaroff. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. no. 148, pp. 86, 275, ill. fig. 89 (color).
Price, Judith. "Exquisite Objects from the Cradle of Civilization." In Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry. Philadelphia; London, 2008. p. 131, ill. (color).
Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. p. 29, ill. fig. 22 (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 88, pp. 8, 133-134, ill. p. 133 (color).