A Fatimid gold and enamel earring 11th century
Lot 9
A Fatimid cloisonné enamelled-gold Pendant Egypt, 11th Century
£5,000 - 8,000
US$ 8,400 - 13,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Fatimid cloisonné enamelled-gold Pendant
Egypt, 11th Century
in the form of a crescent with decorated suspension loop to top and two loops to bottom, each side with two further suspension loops, the inset central panel decorated in cloisonné with a roundel containing a flowerhead flanked by two birds on a ground of flowerheads, the border with a zig-zag design between two cables, the reverse with a series of spiral motifs set within and around a central roundel, the border with zig-zag design
3 cm. diam.; 4.6g.

Footnotes

  • There is a similar gold pendant with an inset cloisonné panel in the British Museum (ME OA 1981.7-7.2) and another in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (30.95.37). Like the present lot, both depict pairs of birds.

    Enamelling, the technique whereby glass coloured with metal oxides used to create designs, was practised in the workshops of the Byzantine Empire, from where it probably spread into the Islamic world. Historical texts mention the gifts of enamelled gold jewellery sent by the Byzantine King Michael to the mother of the Fatimid Caliph al-Imam al-Mustansir bi-Allah, circa 1035-95 (H.C. Evans and W.D. Wilson (eds.), The Glory of Byzantium, Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, AD 843-1261, New York, 1997, p. 420).

    The design, also of confronting birds, is strikingly similar and there are at least six other published items of Fatimid gold jewellery enamelled with either one or two birds. These are in the al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait (Valerie Gonzales, Pratique d'une technique d'art byzantine chez les Fatimides: L'emaillerie sur metal in L'Egypte Fatimide: son art et son histoire, Paris, 1999, pp. 197-217, fig. 3); the Keir Collection, Richmond (B.W. Robinson et al., Islamic Art in the Keir Collection, London, 1988, no. M2, colour plate 33); the Islamic Art Museum, Cairo (Marilyn Jenkins-Medina, "Fatimid Decorative Arts: The Picture, The Sources, The Paint" in L'Egypte Fatimide: Son art et son histoire, Paris, 1999, pp. 421-7, III 88); Louvre Museum, L'islam dans les collections nationales, Exhibition Catalogue, Grand Palais, Paris, 1977, no. 364; Art market, Sotheby's, Arts of the Islamic World, London, 12th October 2000, lot 111. Similar cursive inscriptions can be seen on a number of Fatimid water filters (Tresors fatimides du Caire, Exhibition Catalogue, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 1998, nos. 128-33). Similar cursive inscriptions can be seen on a number of Fatimid water filters (Tresors fatimides du Caire, Exhibition Catalogue, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 1998, nos. 128-33).
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