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Clasp

  • Object:

    Clasp

  • Place of origin:

    Cyprus (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1730-1754 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt filigree with sheet silver fittings

  • Museum number:

    1531&PART-1888

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA4 []

Throughout the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, from the north Balkans to the Caucasus, large and elaborate waist clasps were the most important item in a woman’s dowry. These clasps come in a small number of basic designs. This one is shaped like stylised tulips, a favourite Ottoman motif. It was worn with the pointed part facing upwards, and was fastened by a pin, which attached the left-hand piece to the rest of the clasp. The three chains, which join the pin to the clasp, hang down decoratively over the front of the clasp when it is fastened.

Cypriot clasps are part of the general Ottoman tradition, but are often more sophisticated and decorative than those from elsewhere. The design of this clasp, where the points on the edge of the two side parts, just below the end, point up, unlike the downward curling projections on the centre part, is a pattern found mainly on Cyprus. Similar tulip-shaped filigree clasps, particularly from the former Yugoslavia, Anatolia and Armenia, usually have the curls on all three parts pointing down. The goldsmiths of Cyprus were famous for their filigree although they rarely marked their work. This clasp is a rare exception as it is marked three times with the tughra, which was the official silver mark of the Ottoman Empire.

This clasp was described as 18th century when it was acquired, and the tughra mark confirms that it was made between 1730 and 1754. It was bought in 1888, just after a terrible famine, when many people had to sell their family heirlooms to survive.

Physical description

Silver-gilt filigree clasp with pin fastening. The clasp is made from three stylised tulips of open filigree, with a large vertical tulip in the centre, and a smaller horizontal tulip on each side. The piece on the right, facing the clasp, is soldered to the central piece, and the piece on the left is attached by a pin fastening. The pin is joined to the clasp by three graduated chains of figure-of-eight links, which hang across the front of the clasp, from a ring at the top of the right-hand piece, when the pin is in place. The filigree is decorated with applied domes covered with a granulated design like a stylised pomegranate, and rosettes of facetted lozenges, with a six-pointed Star of David surrounding the central rosette. There are vertical bars on the back to attach the clasp to a belt. The bars on the back all have heavy zigzag chisel marks, to show that they have been tested as silver. The pin may be silver-plated.

Place of Origin

Cyprus (possibly, made)

Date

1730-1754 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt filigree with sheet silver fittings

Marks and inscriptions

Calligraphic monogram in Arabic.
Mahmud Han bin Mustafa... daima.
Tughra of the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I; Mark for 900 standard silver, 1730-1754.
On the vertical sides of the three parts.

Dimensions

Width: 189 mm, Height: 89 mm, depth: 22 mm, height: 198 mm including chains, depth: 35 mm including curvature

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt filigree tulip-shaped clasp decorated with applied rosettes, with a pin fastening attached to three chains, Cyprus, 1730-1754.

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

Identification of silver mark
Kurkman, Garo. Ottoman Silver Marks.
Istanbul, Mathusalem, 1996. ISBN 9758129007. p.44, #24.

Labels and date

Waist clasp
1730–54

Throughout the Ottoman Empire, elaborate waist clasps were the most important item of jewellery in a woman’s dowry. Cypriot clasps were among the most sophisticated, because of their fine filigree decoration. This clasp has assay marks of the Ottoman Empire. It was rare in Cyprus for traditional jewellery to be marked.

Cyprus
Partly gilded silver filigree
[09/12/2015]

Materials

Silver-gilt; Silver

Techniques

Filigree

Subjects depicted

David; Tulip

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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