Name of Object:
Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira 3rd–early 4th centuries / AD 9th–10th centuries
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Chased gold leaf.
Length 2.2 cm, width 2 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Unknown. Probably of Ifriqiyan fabrication.
The main pendant-ring has an opening for insertion in the earlobe. Attached at the lower edge of this ring and pointing downwards are three spheres, each joined to the other and each extended at the base into cylindrical projections. These forms are decorated with radial grooves and lateral bands. Pointing upwards from the same lower part of the ring is a short spoke coiled at the top. Its purpose is unknown.
View Short Description
Although their spherical shape is similar to other Eastern and Western Islamic jewellery, these earrings are different from Raqqada Zirid and Fatimid pieces in their technique and decoration. Only a small quantity of jewellery has survived from the early centuries of Islam to enable them to be dated.
How date and origin were established:
This earring was found during the excavations undertaken in the 1960s on the Raqqada site. Raqqada was founded by the Aghlabids in the year 263 / 876. Its active life as a city continued up to the mid-5th / 11th century, when it was sacked by the Hilalian tribes. So the date of the earring could fall anywhere over the span of these two centuries. We unfortunately do not possess any information as to which archaeological layer the piece came from. However, this piece is technically and decoratively different from Fatimid and Zirid pendants. It has a more archaic and a definitely more classical appearance, which leads us to date it to between the 3rd and the early 4th centuries (9th to 10th centuries).
How Object was obtained:
The earring was discovered on the Raqqada site, this earring was kept at the Institut National du Patrimoine de Kairouan. It was acquired by the Museum of Islamic Art at Raqqada in 1993 and displayed there.
How provenance was established:
Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, pp.174–6.
Citation of this web page:
Mourad Rammah "Earring" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;tn;Mus01;27;en