National Museum of Damascus
Around hegira 5th–6th century / AD 11th–12th century
Length 7 cm
Possibly Raqqa, Syria.
A gold brooch that was designed to hang from the chest by means of a pin attached to the wearer's clothing. It takes the shape of an upside-down heart and was produced from a web of moulded gold. On its frame are tiny rings, from which hang chains that terminate in different forms: a ball, a bird, a crescent-moon and a knot, all fashioned from woven gold filaments.
Throughout the ages, the women of Syria held as important gold and silver jewellery for decoration and self-beautification, as well as a source for financial security. Finds from numerous archaeological sites have included bracelets, armlets, anklets, brooches, earrings, and rings.
This heart-shaped pendant with dangling charms is an example of Fatimid jewellery and would have been attached to the clothing by a pin or possibly woven through by using the small loops along its edge.
This style and quality of ornamentation is typical of the Fatimid period (358–567 / 969–1171) during which time the production of highly refined gold jewellery flourished in Egypt and Syria. Techniques included filigree, granulation, twisted ropes of gold, and occasionally inlay work with gems. Production included bracelets, armlets, earrings, pendants, rings, belts, brooches, and hair ornaments.
Purchased in 1949 in Raqqa.
During the Fatimid period, the gold-production centres of Syria and Egypt flourished, particularly in Aleppo and Cairo. It is not possible, therefore, to determine a definitive provenance for this object.
Atil, E. et al, Islamic Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 1985.
Seipel, W., Schätze der Kalifen: Islamische Kunst zur Fatimidenzeit, Wien, 1998, pp.119–20; fig. 78.
Mona al-Moadin "Brooch" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;18;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: SY 24
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Fatimids | Royal Women: Granddaughters of Fatima al-Zahra′
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)