Part of a diadem
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Hegira 8th century / AD 14th century
Height 6 cm, individual sections 2.8 cm, total length 13.3 cm; total weight 54 g
The four richly ornamented gold plaques formed a part of a diadem that was composed of single twin-walled sections. A triangular component added to one of the diadem’s rectangular pieces was intended for the clasp. Two semi-circular holes have been cut out from each of the four pieces. The single sections of this item of jewellery were then threaded together horizontally with laces like a belt.
Two settings for precious stones and a half-bead made of gold wire have been fixed axially onto the rectangular pieces; the stones no longer exist. The diadem would have originally consisted of seven to ten elements, according to examples from the Caliphate period in Spain during the 10th century. It has been suggested in the literature that the eyelets on the serrated edges along the short sides of the rectangular pieces mean that the diadem was originally sewn onto fabric. This is a clue to its use as a headdress. The entire object’s decoration consists of a densely covered, flat, filigree ornamentation of spiral motifs that were soldered onto the background. The design is broken up by smooth letters written in the naskhi script on both ends of the short sides of the rectangular pieces. The triangular component is ornamented, using the same technique, with what looks like a stylised palmette. Naskhi inscriptions were incorporated into works of art from as early as the AH 6th / AD 12th century. Through comparison of this object with other pieces of jewellery from the Nasrid period it was suggested that the individual words here relate to well wishes and good luck. Until now, only the word ‘ghalib’ (victorious) was legible. It may eventually be possible to decode each word in order to reveal a name with its honorary attributes. As a result, it could be found that this particular object was not intended as a diadem for a woman after all, but as an item of jewellery for a man (perhaps in the form of a belt). Sources, on the other hand, confirm that, during this time, jewellery played an important part in the completion of a marriage contract in influential aristocratic or high-ranking military families. Such items are mentioned in dowry lists from the period.
These four gold pieces belong to a diadem which was originally made up of seven pieces, probably fixed to a textile. Settings for precious stones and Arabic script adorn the pieces. During the Nasrid period, such diadems were worn by women of the upper classes in Granada in al-Andalus.
The technical elements and the script are typical of Nasrid Spain, so it is likely that this dates from 13th–14th-century Andalusia.
Bought from a gallery in 1927.
Similar pieces of Spanish jewellery from the Nasrid period suggest that this could have originated from Spain.
Dodds, J. D., Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, New York,1992, no. 71.
Gladiss, A. v., Schmuck im Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin, 1998, no. 35, ill. 75.
Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin (eds.), Schätze der Alhambra. Islamische Kunst aus Andalusien, 253, Berlin, 1992, no. 93.
Keene, M. and Jenkins, M. (eds.), Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, pp.92–5.
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Catalogue, Berlin, 1973, cat. no. 337.
Annette Hagedorn "Part of a diadem" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;45;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn
Translation by: Maria Vlotides, Brigitte Finkbeiner
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen
MWNF Working Number: GE 56
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Muslim West | Jewellery: Wealth, Prestige and Protection
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