Museum of Islamic Art
Approximately hegira mid-7th century / AD 13th century
Gold encrusted with precious gems and pearls; decorated in filigree.
Length 24 cm
A gold necklace decorated with exquisitely interwoven ornamentation, which assumes the form of intertwined vegetal boughs. The necklace is composed of two chains joined to 20 sumluks (an oval shaped ornamental unit), which are decorated with interwoven vegetal tendrils. Tiny blossoms are suspended from 16 sumluks, each of which ends in a pearl-drop. A pendant in the shape of an inverted crescent hangs down from the two central sumluks; the pendant is stamped with an inscription written in naskhi script and coloured enamel, which reads: 'Eternal Glory'. A circular medallion with a large carnelian lobe in its centre is suspended from the pendant. On the left and right of the pendant, are two other pendants (suspended from two sumluks), the centres of which are adorned by a lobe from the 'bloodstone' – a type of carnelian agate.
Muslim craftsman used a number of techniques to decorate jewellery, including inlay with precious gems and enamel, high- and low-relief carving, filigree, latticework and incising. In the decoration of this piece, the art of interweaving or latticework was used, which involved the preparation of gold to form long wires that were then shaped into decorative intertwining forms connected together by specialised welding.
This richly decorated necklace studded with precious stones may have belonged to a princess.
The necklace was dated based on an analysis of the type and style of decoration used; in view of the fact that intertwined and interwoven vegetal stems are considered as part of the ornamental vocabulary that was widespread during the Ayyubid era, and that the motif appeared on a number of buildings as well as other applied objects. In addition, the expression: 'Eternal Glory', which was written on one of the necklace's suspended pendants, has connections with literature of the Ayyubid period.
This piece was bought from a dealer of antiquities, Fu'ad Bulus, in 1937.
'Aliwa, Hussain Abd al-Rahim,“Al-Huly [Jewellery]”, in Hassan al-Pasha et al, al-Qāhira, tārikhuha, fūnunuha, Āthāruha [Cairo, its History, Arts and Monuments], 1970.
_____________, L'Orient de Saladin: L'Art des Ayyoubides, exhibitioncatalogue,Paris, 2001.
Hamdi, A., et al, Katalog Ma'rid al-fan al-islāmi fi misr [Catalogue of the Islamic Art Exhibition in Egypt], Cairo, 1969.
Mostafa, M., The Museum of Islamic Art: A Short Guide, Cairo, 1979.
Yasin, Abd al-Nasir, Al-Funun al-Zukhrufiya fi al-'Asr al-Ayyubi [Decorative Arts During the Ayyubid Period], 2002.
Salah Sayour "Gold necklace" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;29;en
Prepared by: Salah SayourSalah Sayour
Salah Ahmad Sayour holds a BA in Islamic Antiquities, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University (1973) and is currently studying for an MA in the same field. In 1979 he had a four-month scholarship at Austrian museums to study museology. Preparing exhibitions for the Museum of Islamic Art's collections in the Arab World Institute, Paris and curating exhibitions held in host museums in the USA and Paris augmented his experience leading to his appointment as head of several sections at the Museum. He has written several articles on Islamic painting and arts for Prism Magazine published by the Ministry in different languages and has participated in preparing scientific texts for the catalogues for the Museum's exhibitions at home and abroad.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: ET 50
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Atabegs and Ayyubids | Court Life Women | The Private Lives of Muslim Women
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)