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Clasp

  • Place of origin:

    Cyprus (produced)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver gilt, with coloured enamels, red and green pastes, and seed pearls

  • Museum number:

    1525&A-1888

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 78, shelf A, box 1 []

Throughout the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, from the north Balkans to the Caucasus, large and elaborate clasps were the most important item in a woman's dowry. The women who owned them sewed them onto cloth belts which they made themselves, usually richly embroidered. The only men who wore ornamental clasps were bishops and other senior ecclesiastics. Their clasps were often decorated with religious themes.

The cone, comma, or paisley-shaped clasp is one of the commonest and most characteristic designs throughout the former Ottoman region.

Cypriot clasps are part of the general Ottoman tradition, but are often more sophisticated and decorative than those from elsewhere. The goldsmiths of Cyprus were famous for their filigree, often enriched with blue and green enamels. They rarely marked their work. This clasp probably dates from the 18th century. It was bought in 1888, just after a terrible famine, when many people had to sell their family heirlooms.

Physical description

Two-part comma-shaped belt clasp with predominately green polychromatic enamels riveted to the base, and inset with red and green coloured glass. The outer border of the enamel is in foliate scrolls, with an inner circle of six-petal rosettes and a central boss enhanced with seed pearls and a single clear paste.

Place of Origin

Cyprus (produced)

Date

18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver gilt, with coloured enamels, red and green pastes, and seed pearls

Dimensions

Width: 26.5 cm, Height: 10.0 cm, Depth: 2.3 cm

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt comma-shaped belt clasp (poukla) with enamel and pastes, Cyprus, 18th century.

Production Note

Worn by women

Materials

Paste; Enamel; Silver-gilt; Pearls

Subjects depicted

Scrolls

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Middle East Section

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