- Place of origin:
- Museum number:
1071&1 to 6-1873
- Gallery location:
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 71, shelf A, box 3 
In the 19th century many parts of the Netherlands were isolated by water. This led to the evolution of unique types of traditional jewellery. The golden oorijzer (ear iron) is the most striking example. It evolved from a simple iron band used to hold an expensive lace cap safely in place against the force of a north-sea gale. By the 19th century it had become an elaborate headdress. It was worn over an under cap, and was usually completely hidden by one or more lace caps placed over it.
Oorijzers are unique to the Netherlands. They were frequently made of gold, like this one, and come in a variety of shapes, depending on region. This oorijzer, and its accessories, are typical of Zeeland. The decorative spirals on the ends of the oorijzer are called krullen, and were often the only part which was visible when worn. They were used as a base from which to hang pairs of bellen, which hung down like earrings, either side of the face. The flat, comma-shaped ornaments, called zijnaalden, were worn diagonally across the forehead, with the decorative parts in the centre, and the narrow ends at each side, just above the ear. The narrow ends were anchored in the hair by a pin through the small hole in the end. These hair pins and forehead ornaments are decorated with filigree, made of very fine wire, and decorative appliqués stamped from thin sheet gold. The fluted rosettes and cornucopia are typical of Dutch work.
This oorijzer, complete with associated ear pendants, forehead ornaments and hair pins, was bought for £27 5s. at the International Exhibition, London, 1872. It is likely that they were all gathered together at the request of the organisers, as an example of typical Dutch traditional jewellery.
Place of Origin
Set of gold headdress jewellery with filigree decoration, Netherlands, 1830-1870.
Jewellery; Metalwork; Hats & headwear