Necklace thumbnail 1
Necklace thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Necklace

1700-1799 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The imperial urban jewellery of Morocco is traditionally made of gold, unlike the jewellery worn by the tribal people, who had a strong preference for silver. While it is clearly related to the jewellery worn elsewhere in North Africa, it often retains a richness and sophistication, derived from the medieval Islamic culture of southern Spain, which is absent in many other countries.

This necklace shows many of these characteristics. The cylindrical beads, called qannuta in Morocco, are directly descended from a pattern used by the Moors of Andalusia before their expulsion in the 15th century. The same design continued in use among Spanish Christians in such places as La Alberca until the 19th century. The symbol of a double-headed eagle, representing power throughout the Islamic Mediterranean region as much as in Europe, may date from the same period.

There was no information about the origins of this necklace when it arrived in the Museum in 1902. It may have been made in Tétouan, a centre of Andalusian culture on the north coast of Morocco, where similar necklaces were worn in the 18th century.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Pendants
  • Chains
Materials and techniques
Silver-gilt filigree set with pearls, emeralds and rubies, on a necklace of swags of pearls, with beads of silver-gilt and cloisonne imitation enamel
Brief description
Silver-gilt and seed pearl necklace with double-headed gem-set eagle pendant, Tétouan (Morocco), 1700-1799.
Physical description
Necklace of swags of seed pearls, eight strands in each swag, interspersed by decorative silver-gilt beads, with a pendant shaped like a crowned double-headed eagle. There are two spherical open filigree beads, one on each side, on the necklace, and two cylindrical beads. The cylindrical beads are covered with cloisonné imitation enamel, and have a circle of small filigree beads round each end. The pendant consists of six pieces linked by jump rings and hooks. The body, tail and two wings are made of silver-gilt filigree. The lower feathers of each wing, and the border of the tail, are made of sheet silver, gilded, and engraved to look like feathers. These engraved feathers are alternatively gilded in yellow and red. The head is made of gilded hollow sheet silver, and the two legs are made of cast gilded silver. All the pieces are set with gems (emeralds, rubies and pearls), and there is a string of seed pearls round the neck of the eagle, and a pearl hanging from each beak. The filigree is all open work, and decorated with applied granules.
Dimensions
  • Height: 26.5cm
  • Width: 16.5cm
  • Depth: 1.8cm
Credit line
Gibson-Carmichael Collection
Summary
The imperial urban jewellery of Morocco is traditionally made of gold, unlike the jewellery worn by the tribal people, who had a strong preference for silver. While it is clearly related to the jewellery worn elsewhere in North Africa, it often retains a richness and sophistication, derived from the medieval Islamic culture of southern Spain, which is absent in many other countries.



This necklace shows many of these characteristics. The cylindrical beads, called qannuta in Morocco, are directly descended from a pattern used by the Moors of Andalusia before their expulsion in the 15th century. The same design continued in use among Spanish Christians in such places as La Alberca until the 19th century. The symbol of a double-headed eagle, representing power throughout the Islamic Mediterranean region as much as in Europe, may date from the same period.



There was no information about the origins of this necklace when it arrived in the Museum in 1902. It may have been made in Tétouan, a centre of Andalusian culture on the north coast of Morocco, where similar necklaces were worn in the 18th century.
Bibliographic reference
Nadia Erzini, ‘A Moroccan bird pendant and a necklace in the Victoria and Albert Museum’, Al-Qantara, 12/1, 1991, 251–66
Collection
Accession number
607:1, 2-1902

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Record createdSeptember 22, 2005
Record URL
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