Name of Object:



Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

 About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 6th century / AD 12th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):



Height 3 cm, width 2.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:





Gold earring in the shape of a crescent moon (hilal). It has a ring with a clasp on the top for attaching it. The body of the earring is made up of two fretwork sheets, decorated with filigree work and seeding, that are connected by a smooth strip that runs around the edge. Each side is decorated differently. One has Byzantine-influenced fretwork decoration of symmetrically interlaced spirals. The other, like the outer edge, shows a succession of small seeded protuberances of Fatimid construction with fretwork filigree ornamentation in which a central motif made up of two opposed spirals stands out.
This piece may have originated in a Syrian or Egyptian workshop, as they had special relevance from the Fatimid era, although, being such a portable object, different hypotheses are possible. This piece of woman's jewellery tell us not only about the fashions of the time, but also of the purchasing power and the financial position of its owner.

View Short Description

From its crescent-moon shape and similarity to other pieces, this is most likely an earring from the Fatimid era made in a workshop in Egypt or Syria. Such jewellery was only available to women with a high social status and would have been worn on special occasions.

How date and origin were established:

From its typical features and parallels with other known examples, such as the earrings held in the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

How Object was obtained:

The piece was purchased for the National Archaeological Museum by the State in 2002.

How provenance was established:

It is not known where the piece was produced, and it has been attributed to various different origins. It probably comes from an Eastern workshop.

Selected bibliography:

Folsach, K. von, Islamic Art: The David Collection, Copenhagen, 1990, pp.183 and 218, no. 371.
Hasson, R., Early Islamic Jewellery, Jerusalem, 1987.
Papí Rodes, C., “Zarcillo Nazarí”, La Herencia del Pasado (II). Últimas Adquisiciones del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (2002–2003), Madrid, 2004, p.133.

Citation of this web page:

M.ª del Carmen Alonso Rodríguez "Earring" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;es;Mus01;49;en

Prepared by: M.ª Del Carmen Alonso Rodríguez
Copyedited by: Rosalía Aller
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 72