What is an Egyptian cartouche?
A cartouche is an oval or oblong pendant enclosing hieroglyphics above a single straight line, giving the title or name of an ancient Egyptian ruler. These were often made of gold and placed around the neck of a body being prepared for burial so the deceased person could be identified in the afterlife. They could also be hung from a sarcophagus or coffin.
When Napoleon’s soldier looted the tombs of ancient Egypt in the 19th century, the shape of the pendants found with the bodies reminded them of the oblong shape of their bullets. Because they could not read the hieroglyphics, they did not know what the pendants were for, and called them cartouches, the French word for gun cartridge or bullet
What is a Celtic torque?
A torque is a specific style of Celtic necklace or collar. It is a flat metal band that clasps tightly around the neck. Made of gold or silver, a torque can be plain with an ornamental clasp or decorated with intricately-carved Celtic knotwork. Some were made in the style of a cuff bracelet, with an opening in the front to allow them to be easily placed around the neck.
Among the ancient Celtic tribes, torques were a symbol of high rank. They were worn by priests, warriors, queens, and kings. A torque was a symbol of divine or magical protection as well as social status, and they were believed to protect the wearer from curses, evil wishes, or physical harm in battle.
What is a Tuareg Cross?
A Tuareg cross is a symbolic piece of jewelry passed from father to son among the Tuareg tribes in Northern Africa. The Tuareg are a nomadic culture, so the Tuareg cross symbolizes all four corners of the world, indicating that the wearer does not know where he will die.
A Tuareg cross is almost always made of silver, which is considered the metal of the Prophet Muhammad.
What is a Greek komboloi?
A komboloi is a type of Greek beaded jewelry also known as “worry beads.” This usually takes the form of joined strings of colorful beads, often made of glass or amber, with a head bead at one end and a tassel hanging from the other. Clicking through komboloi beads is a form of stress relief and can be used to pass the time or meditate.
The first komboloi were knotted ropes used by Greek monks as a way to keep track of their prayers. The name comes from the Greek words kombo (knot) and leo (say), meaning “in every knot say a prayer.” Over the centuries, the worry beads lost their religious meaning.
What is the importance of jade in Chinese jewelry?
Jade has been an important symbol in Chinese culture for over 7,000 years. It has traditionally been considered the most valuable stone in China, often commanding higher prices than gold or silver. A Chinese saying states, “Gold has a value, but jade is invaluable.”
The balance of beauty and hardness found in jade was thought to represent a perfect balance of yin and yang. Jade was often called the Stone of Heaven and believed to have magical properties. Jewelry made with jade was supposed to protect the wearer from bad luck, illness, or evil spirits. To this day, Chinese babies are often given a small jade bangle to ward of bad luck.
In the 5th century BC, Confucius described the eleven virtues that jade represents, including purity, grace, beauty, intelligence, and justice.
In modern China, jade is valued both for its beauty and it connection to Chinese culture. Many families have at least one piece of jade jewelry, often a bangle or pin passed down from mother to child.
What is the symbolism of turquoise in Navajo Indian jewelry?
To the Navajo tribes of the American Southwest, turquoise has been an important symbol for thousands of years. Turquoise stones symbolize happiness, health, and luck. Turquoise also symbolizes a connection to the natural world because it can be found in shades of blue, green, black, and white – all colors found prominently in nature.
In addition to the symbolism, turquoise jewelry has also been important to the Navajo people as a status symbol. Wealth and social power is indicated by the size of individual jewelry pieces, the number of stones worked into them, and the amount of jewelry an individual wears.
What is the traditional jewelry of the Saami?
The Saami are a tribal group in northern Sweden known for their distinctive style of leather jewelry. Because the Saami were traditionally nomadic, they did not produce jewelry made of metal or gems, but they could work with the leather from the reindeer they herded. The most well-known of these leather jewelry styles are their bracelets, also known as Swedish bracelets.
Traditional Saami leather bracelets can either be left plain, braided, or decorated in patterns made from horn beading and silver thread. Commercially-made Saami bracelets, which are sold around the world, include silver buttons, Swarovski crystals, silk thread, and glass beads.
What are the unique features of jewelry from the Hopi tribe?
Before silversmithing was introduced to Native American tribes by European settlers, Hopi jewelry was similar to that of other tribes in the American Southwest. It was primarily made of shell, bone, wood, turquoise, and other stones.
Once silversmithing was incorporated by Hopi craftsmen, they began to use a style of silver work known as overlaying. This is made by using two pieces of sterling silver, one of which has designs cut into it. The pieces are then soldered together to create jewelry with more depth and contrast. The Hopi were the only tribe in the region to adopt this form of jewelry making, and it is considered a distinctive Hopi style to this day.
Even after adopting silversmithing, Hopi craftsmen still used traditional symbols in their work. These included cornstalks, water, the sun, kachina figures, and Kokopelli.
What is the history and importance of African bead jewelry?
Bead jewelry has been made all across the African continent for thousands of years. The oldest piece of jewelry ever discovered was made of shell beads and found in South Africa. It was believed to date back over 75,000 years. In Kenya, beads made from ostrich egg were discovered and estimated to be over 40,000 years old.
African beadwork is used for adornment, to show status or tribal affiliation, and for religious ceremonies. In the past, strings of beads were also used as currency when trading between tribes or nations within Africa.
Traditional materials for beads are organic materials that are found locally, such as ivory, bone, stones, shells, wood, and amber. African beadwork can be fashioned into many types of jewelry, including necklaces, collars, bracelets, belts, anklets, and earrings.
What is the meaning of Zulu beadwork?
Though Zulu beadwork can be purchased by tourists, its traditional use is as a form of communication between men and women. Beading was done by women and usually taught to them as girls by their mother or an older sister.
The colors and designs of a woman’s beaded jewelry communicates her home, family, marriage status, and dozens of other messages. Often, Zulu women will help men interpret another woman’s jewelry.
Zulu beads are made in the shape of a triangle, which represents a family of man, woman, and child. The meaning of the beadwork depends on the size, orientation, arrangement, and color of the beads.
What is the significance of Massai beaded jewelry?
Beading and jewelry making are integral parts of the Massai culture and are carried out by Massai women. Many women will spend time together every day to work on beading jewelry, whether for themselves, their families, or to sell or trade.
Though Massai jewelry is made by women, it is worn by both women and men. In addition to being beautiful, beaded jewelry will indicate a person’s age and social status. Individuals with higher social standing will wear more elaborate jewelry. Married women wear a Nborro, a long necklace made of bright blue beads.