Date: 19th–early 20th century

Geography: Attributed to Saudi Arabia

Medium: Gold, fabricated from sheet, wire, and swaged wire, decorated with granulation, set with turquoise

Dimensions: Max. L. of bead 1 3/5 in. (4.05 cm), Max. Diam. 4/5 in. (2 cm)

Classification: Jewelry

Credit Line: Purchase, Mobil Foundation Inc. Gift, 1980

Accession Number: 1980.306a–f


Further confirming the Arabian Peninsula as a region rich in the tradition of jewelry art are these remarkable hollow beads from a necklace that was probably completed by additional sections of beads, most likely of turquoise and coral, somewhat irregularly shaped. These beads might have been considered medieval were it not for their place of origin and the corroborating evidence of the origin of related types. While these beads have distinctive individual features not known on medieval pieces (most notably, the large set turquoises), analogies–particularly of form–with earlier pieces are obvious. The granulation work and the overall technical control of these beads are of such high quality, and their design of such classical proportions, that we may well wonder whether they represent the survival of an as-yet-unknown medieval type.