Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Pair of fibulae

Pair of fibulae

  • Place of origin:

    Tunisia (made)

  • Date:

    1856-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast silver

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Edmond Dresden

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The traditional jewellery of the Berber tribes of North Africa is almost always made of silver in heavy, clearly-defined shapes. Although individual pieces rarely date back any earlier than the 19th century, the designs are very old, and European observers liked to find traces of Roman or Phoenician influence.

The use of ring brooches to fasten women’s traditional clothing is universal across the region and dates back to late Roman times. Most of these brooches are penannular in shape, with large decorative heads, but these are of a very basic design which could have been made at any time in the last 2,000 years. They were worn in pairs, just below the shoulders, to hold the dress together, and were worn upside down, with the pin pointing upwards. They were often linked together by a chain.

This design was most common in rural areas in the west of Tunisia, but they are also found across the border in Algeria. The marks on these show that they were made in Tunisia.

Physical description

Pair of penannular ring brooches with long pins. Each consists of a hoop of thick silver wire with each end thickened into a solid rectangle. The hoop is decorated all over with short sections of diagonal lines. The pin is a length of thick wire pointed at one end and flattened at the other to form a loop before being wrapped round the end of the pin to secure it.

Place of Origin

Tunisia (made)


1856-1900 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cast silver

Marks and inscriptions

Partial marks of Arabic characters in an hexagonal frame.
Sekka standard mark.
On the pin, and on the sides of the terminals.

Partial marks of Arabic characters in an hexagonal frame.
Probably the Sahha mark.
On the sides of the terminals.


Height: 14.1 cm, Width: 7 cm

Object history note

Accessions register entry: 'Pair of Brooches of silver, lightly chased. Each is stamped with Arabic marks. / Each consists of a penannular wire with squared ends (monsters' heads), on which is hung the pin roughly beaten out with a flattened loop at its base. / North African. / Each, diam. 2 3/4 in., pin, L. 5 1/2 in. (in 331a, 5 1/8 in.).'

Descriptive line

Pair of silver fibulae with plain penannular rings and long pins, Tunisia, 1856-1900.




Jewellery; Africa; Metalwork


Middle East Section

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.