Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira 1st–2nd century / AD 7th–8th century
Gold wire with soldered on adornments.
Height 6.5 cm, width 5.8 cm
Umayyad or Abbasid
The filigree earring is composed of a circular tube of gold foil, soldered onto the inside of which is a piece that consists of freestanding decorative elements, which decorate only the earring’s lower half. On one side there is an eyelet clasp. Freestanding wire-work and surface granulation create what looks like a rosette, which is framed on either side by two rectangular boxes. The rosette is composed of six simple circles bordered by a crenellated frieze made of granulated dots. Six circles fill the rectangular boxes. Two friezes of differing width sit above the rosette and boxes, each consisting of a horizontal row of circles. Further individual elements are soldered onto the gold tube as well as to each other, achieving a certain stability or solidity while retaining an apparent lightness of structure.
The designers and makers of women’s jewellery in the Umayyad and Abbasid periods took their inspiration from examples that were made in the Byzantine era, so that designs changed only gradually. The earring’s geometry expresses the decorative aesthetic of the time, an aesthetic evident within other art forms such as architectural decoration.
This single earring from early Islamic Egypt follows a shape in use in pre-Islamic times. The design within the lower part of the circle has an almost architectural quality. A medallion and friezes contain differently executed rows of small circles. This type of jewellery was made for woman.
This type of earring and the design of each individual element point to it being from Late Antiquity or the Byzantine era, so that the earliest date that can be suggested is some time within the Early Islamic period.
Donated by M. Nahman, Cairo.
The earring was acquired in Cairo and strikingly similar examples can be seen in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, so it is very likely that it is of Egyptian provenance.
Gladiss, A. v., Schmuck im Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin, 1998, no. 14, ill. 70.
Museum für Islamische Kunst Berlin, Catalogue, Berlin, 1979, no. 133.
Annette Hagedorn "Single earring" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;40;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 51
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Abbasids | Abbasid Egypt
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)