Author Archives: BarbaraAnne

The Taj of Azerbaijan

By Aynur Mammadova, assistant to Dr. Shirin Melikova, Director of the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum

Crown of the Bride, the Taj was an uncommon and precious headdress in the Western Caucasus regions. In ancient times, along with other jewelry that formed the basis of a wedding dress, the Taj took precedence among bridal gifts and was made by special order.

The centerpiece of the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum‘s exhibition of jewelry masterpieces is this 19th Century Taj.

The center-top of the cap consisted of a round plate, the entire field of which was decorated with openwork domes alternating with nests of inclusions of colored stones. Above were botehs without swirls and the crescent and star, symbolizing the moon and the sun.

A cap of dense fabric was completely overlaid and laced with metal and stones in a repeated shape. The base of the hat was divided into four parts by triangular plates in the form of domes, the decoration of which echoed the skilled finery of the central part.

Descending along the edge of the circumference, both the central and side plates featured long multi-tiered suspensions, with alternating chains and small gilded pendants that symbolized leaves, buds, granules, triangles, and circles, which were made in the stamping technique.

The piece was also decorated with colored stones. Some of the stones were single-layered and flat with a relief pattern. Others were “blown,” had volume, and were hollow inside. The sacred power of these symbols was associated with the ideas of fertility, the spring revival of nature, and in this case, also with the fecundity that the woman desired.

Taj (headdress). Sheki-Zagatala region, Azerbaijan. 19th century. Silver. Stamping, granulation. Azerbaijan Carpet Museum.

BarbaraAnne’s Hair Comb Blog is sponsored by Ethnic Jewels Magazine and the Ethnic Jewels Community.

Book Review: Berber Women of Morocco

Like a nomad gazing at the night sky, a ceiling of stars covered the main room of the 2014 exhibition, Berber Women of Morocco, at the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves St. Laurent in Paris. Each tribe’s jewelry and costume was sumptuously presented. The accompanying book, with pages of orange and indigo-blue, is a tribute…Continue Reading

Indian Combs of Love and Perfume

One day in 1819, an Indian tiger noticed a party of British hunters. They were obviously lost and thirsty, so the tiger led them to a cave where there was water and went on his way. The Western Ghat mountains near Maharashta can be hard to navigate. What the hunters found were the painted caves…Continue Reading

Auctions: Pre-Columbian, Indian, and Islamic Jewelry

On 15 May 2015: African, Oceanic & Pre-Columbian Art: Sotheby’s. Among the jewelry for sale is this large gold frog pendant (800 – 1500 AD) from the Coclé civilization of modern-day Panama. Starting bids: $50,000 to $70,000. 23 April 2015: Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds: Christie’s, London: An 18th Century Armenian gemset and…Continue Reading

Diamond Hair Combs and Tiaras

Tiaras have been an essential part of a woman’s wedding dowry since the Middle Ages. As early as the 1850’s, aristocratic women bought sets of diamond sprays and brooches. Delicately set in platinum and looking like embroidery, these pieces came with different fittings such as a tiara frame, hinge for a tortoiseshell comb, or pin…Continue Reading

Auction News

Sotheby’s In September of 2010, jewelry designer Ann Ziff opened her store on Madison Avenue, Tamsen Z. After specializing in barrettes, she started creating jewelry in all forms. On 6 April 2015, the “Renée Fleming Iris” brooch she made will be auctioned at Sotheby’s, with a starting estimate of $80,000 – $96,000. The flower was…Continue Reading