Late 19th or early 20th century
Central Asia or Iran
Silver, decorative wire, wire chains with pendants, and table-cut carnelians
Main diamond: 2 1/8 × 3 1/2 × 1/8 in. (5.5 × 9 × 0.30 cm)
Chain to bottom: 3 × 7/16 × 1/8 in. (7.6 × 1.1 × 0.30 cm)
Total: 4 3/4 × 3 1/2 × 5/16 (12.4 × 8.9 × 0.80 cm)
Weight: 1.57oz (44.8g)
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Acquired by David P. Harris, possibly from The Chair House in San Francisco on March 21, 1979.
This pectoral is made from silver with a diamond base and seven hanging pendants. The diamond base is covered in ornament. The ornament is symmetrical with flowing lines throughout the whole base. The lines come together in the four corners of the diamond. There is a table cut carnelian in the middle of the diamond. The carnelian is a burnt orange color. The diamond is framed with a line of dots around the edge. There is a large circle on the left side of the diamond which could be used to connect it with another piece. There are two more circles on the top and right of the diamond but these are smaller in size and raised. Seven hanging pendants are on the bottom of the base. The pendants consist of flat, oval shapes, connected by braided silver wire chains. The middle pendant and the pendant furthest to the right both have an abstract fish image. Both of those pendants have two circles that resemble eyes on the top of the pendants. Flowing down on those two pendants are lines that are symmetrical. The lines go straight down the middle and round out into two half circles twice. This object has some wear on the ornament in the diamond. It appears that there has been rusting, but overall the piece is in good condition.
Geometry plays an important role in this piece. The triangular shape was one of the most common shapes used for pectoral jewelry. The geometric nature of the pendant is meant to ward off evil energy. The angularity of the body contrasts with the organic nature of the hanging tassels. Within the hard angles of the pendant, organic swirls surround the carnelian, centralizing it. The carnelian, placed at the center of the pendant, is meant to “protect the wearer from illness” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008.579.6).
Animal motifs are very prominent and hold a distinct role by demonstrating surrounding nature and environment. In this specific piece it could be determined that the shapes at the end of the pendant are fish. Oftentimes, the representation of fish in Turkmen jewelry are seen in abstract forms. Fish symbolize many things such as fertility, pregnancy, as well as male fertility and masculinity. Fish can also portray revitalization and evolution with an overall sense of “…mother goddess as creator and lunar goddess” (Cooper, as quoted by Noruzi and Kermani).
Layla S. Diba, Turkmen Jewelry: Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn Wolf Collection (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011).
Hossein Noruzi, and Imanzakariai Kermani, “Concepts of Motifs in Culture: a Review of the Jewelry of Turkmen Women,” Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design 5, no. 2 (2015): 13–26.
Maddie Garner ’24, Mia VanWie ’24, Mallory Brophy ’25, Spencer Kirsch ’26