Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Girdle

Girdle

  • Place of origin:

    Piana degli Albanesi (made)

  • Date:

    1710 (made)
    c. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Caruso, Placido (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs E. M. Richards

  • Museum number:

    M.65:1&2-1949

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This belt and clasp are characteristic of a type of costume ornament worn by the women of the Albanian community of Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily. The belt is known as a 'brezi', from the Albanian word 'brez', meaning 'race' or 'progeny', and the term refers to the function of the belt as a symbol of motherhood. A 'brezi' is an important element in the ritual leading up to marriage and subsequent motherhood, as the bride-to-be wears it as she displays her dowry. The clasp ('borchia') which fastens the belt is decorated with the image of the local patron saint, in this case St George.
The belt and clasp are traditionally the most important pieces of jewellery worn by the women of this community.

Physical description

Belt made of 13 cast square silver sections of open-work with a rayed sun in the centre of each section, joined with two cast silver links in the shape of flowers. The clasp of silver with a cast image of St George slaying the dragon beneath a canopy, cherubs either side of the saint.

Place of Origin

Piana degli Albanesi (made)

Date

1710 (made)
c. 1750 (made)

Artist/maker

Caruso, Placido (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver

Marks and inscriptions

Eagle with lowered wings over letters R.V.P.
Mark for silver, Palermo, before around 1710.
On front of 10 segments of belt.

'P.C.710' in rectangular frame.
Mark of assay master Placido Caruso, of Palermo, 1710.
On front of 11 segments of belt.

'PC' and star in rectangular frame.
Mark of unidentified maker
On front of 9 segments of belt.

Eagle with raised wings over letters R.V.P.
Mark for silver, Palermo, after around 1710.
On front of clasp, below horse's front legs.

'A.M.' in rectangular frame.
Mark of unidentified maker.
On front of clasp, at right of crown.

Illegible mark, possibly ending in '2', in rectangular frame.
Assay master's mark
On front of clasp, on wing of dragon.

Partial mark of an eagle with raised wings.
Mark for silver, Palermo, after around 1710.
On front of clasp, on base of dragon.

Dimensions

Height: 13 cm clasp only, Width: 14 cm clasp only, Depth: 2.5 cm clasp; approximate depth, Weight: 273.9 g clasp only, Length: 62.7 cm belt only; includes clasps at the end, Width: 5.5 cm belt, Depth: 1 cm belt; approximate depth, Weight: 582.7 g belt

Object history note

This belt was given to the V&A in 1949 by Mrs Euphrosyne M. Richards, née Whitaker. She presumably inherited it from her mother, the famous Sicilian collector Euphrosyne (Effie) Whitaker, née Manuel. It was recorded as owned by her when illustrated by the British Consul-General Sidney J.A. Churchill in a special issue of 'The Studio' devoted to Peasant Art in Italy in 1913.

Descriptive line

Silver, Sicily (Piana degli Albanesi), the belt stamped with Palermo assay officer's mark for 1710, the clasp c. 1750.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Accascina, Maria. I Marchi delle Argenterie e Oreficerie Siciliane. Busto Arsizio: Bramante Editrice, 1976
Piana degli Albanesi / Hora e Arbëreshëvet. Quaderni di Biblos, 1/10. Palermo: Comune di Piana degli Albanesi and Biblioteca comunale Giuseppe Schiro di Piana degli Albanesi, 2000. Guidebook to the area and its customs.
Francesco Polizzi, 'Splendori di Sicilia al Victoria and Albert Museum' (doctoral thesis), Palermo, 2011, p.188.
S.J.A. Churchill, 'Peasant Jewellery' in 'Peasant Art in Italy', a special edition of 'The Studio', Autumn 1913, fig. 300.
Perry, Jane. Traditional Jewellery in Nineteenth-Century Europe. London: V&A Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781851777297
Concetta di Natale, Maria. Ore e argenti di Sicilia dal Quattrocento al Settecento. Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Museo Regionale Pepoli, Trapani, July 1-Oct. 30, 1989. Milan: Electa, 1989. ISBN 8843528491
di Natale, Maria Concetta. Ori e argenti di Sicilia dal Quattrocento al Settecento. Catalogue of the exhibition at the Museo Regionale Pepoli, Trapani, 1 July - 30 October 1989. Milan: Electa, 1989. ISBN 8843528491

Labels and date

2. GIRDLE
Worn at festivals by peasants of Piana dei Greci, Palermo, Sicily.
SICILIAN (Palermo mark): second half of 18th century.
Marks, (?) SCC and AM (buckle); PC 710 (girdle).
Given by Mrs. Richards
M.65-1949 [1970-1980]

Materials

Silver; Gold

Techniques

Casting

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.