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  • Place of origin:

    Turkey (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1916-1919 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass beads knotted with cotton and fibre

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Betty Isobelle Kneller

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Beaded snake with a white belly and green back with diamond shapes picked out in black and white beads with red and blue details. The words 'Turkish Prisoner' are worked in black on the belly. The glass beads seem to be knotted with yellow cotton over a flexible core, probably made from rags and loose fibres.

Place of Origin

Turkey (possibly, made)


1916-1919 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Glass beads knotted with cotton and fibre

Marks and inscriptions

'Turkish Prisoner'
Worked in black on the belly


Length: 230 cm, Circumference: 6.5 cm maximum

Object history note

Registered File number 1992/1397.

This was worked by a Turkish prisoner-of-war in the Middle East (Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia?) as a way of earning money. The donor's father is said to have exchanged a packet of cigarettes for this example.

Historical context note

There are several examples in the Department of Exhibits and Firearms in the Imperial War Museum (IWM):

Most include the words 'Turkish Prisoner', 'Turkish Prisoners' or 'TP'.
One includes the word 'Cyprus' and the date '1914' but this may be a mistake as all the others are dated 1917, 1918 and 1919. One says 'Souvenir, 1919'.
One snake has been beaded to show several flags, French, British, Belgian, Romanian, German, Turkish and repeats the usual inscription in the Arabic script.
One snake is eating a baby lizard.

Other items in the IWM include beaded purses, necklaces, a three-dimensional lizard and a bag with the prisoner's name and number and the date 1919. Their record cards suggest some were made in Egypt and the V&A has seen one with the word 'Kut' from Mesopotamia. One snake (inventory number EPH792) is broken and shows that the interior is made from loose threads and rags. The beading was probably done with a needle starting at the tail - the beads are not sewn on separately but are integral to the fabric.

The type of beads used vary little and the yellow cotton and the way of forming the head and mouth are consistently the same, but the patterns, colours and sizes vary enormously.

Descriptive line

Beaded snake, possibly made in Turkey, 1916-1919

Production Note

Made by POW in Mespotamia


Glass beads; Cotton thread; Fibre




Textiles; Glass


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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