Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Central Asian Tillya Kosh

Tillya kosh, or tilla kosh as it is sometimes written, are some of the most beautiful items of personal adornment that I know of.  These lovely bridal headpieces originate in Uzbekistan, specifically in the areas of Bukhara and Samarkand.  The name itself has been translated to mean "golden brow" perhaps because they are usually made of a golden colored metal.  Older pieces have been found that are made of true gold, but later pieces are gold leaf or even base metals.

The jewelry of Uzbekistan has traditionally been lavish and amazing to look at and tillya kosh are no exception.  The lovely shape of the tillya kosh is meant to mimic the shape of a woman's brow line and embodied the goddess Anahita (Umay).

Originally tillya kosh were decorated with jewels and precious stones set into the upper scrolling crown and dangles of gold and perhaps pearls along the bottom.  Most often the design incorporated a line of turquoise stones which symbolized both the celestial sphere and water.

Tamara Khanum, first woman to perform without the veil in Uzbekistan

The origins of the design have roots in many different areas, cultures and times - Tajikistan, Persia and India, the Buddhist and Islamic religions, and the changes and ideas that these cultures brought to the region.

Like most forms of traditional jewelry, tillya kosh are still being made today, although the materials used may be different.  Even European jewelry designers have borrowed this flattering shape to make their own creations that echo the traditional designs.

European Diadem

It is still sometimes possible to find fine old pieces today, but they are quite expensive and difficult to locate. New pieces in less expensive materials are sometimes available at more affordable prices if you keep your eyes open for them.  

For further reading, please see:

Jewelrs Magic - Like Art

Tillya Kosh Bridal Forehead Decoration

Comparative Analysis of Head Jewelry of Europe and Central Asia

Buddhist Tradition in Tajik Jewelry

More in depth info on women's costuming:

The National Costume of Samarkand Women at the end of the 19th - 20th Centuries

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fibula – What Are They? Where Do They Come From? How Do I Wear This Thing?

Moroccan Fibula in the Kabylie Style

If you have seen North African folkloric dancers, you may have seen them wearing a curious looking pin with a ring or “C” shape around it on their costuming. Or maybe you have seen renaissance faire characters with these items on their cloaks. If you aren't familiar with authentic period costuming, you may never have seen one of these pieces up close. The have a long history, can be quite beautiful and lend an artistic touch to dance costuming or even everyday wear. 

There are several different designs that are called 'fibula' but basically consist of a long pin with an attached piece of heavy wire or decorated metal in a “C” shape. Fibula can be single pieces or pairs. Fibulae is the plural form of the word. They can be plain or quite ornate and often have chains or pendants attached. Gems, enamel work, and designs of any and all kinds can be found on these lovely pieces. They can be made from almost any metal, and sometimes other materials, including  bronze, iron, ivory, silver, gold, and even bone. Usually worn at the shoulder or shoulders, they are often thought of as the original safety pin!

Catch style fibula from Asia Minor

Fibula have been found that date to as early as the bronze age. Quite popular with the ancient Romans who borrowed design from the Greeks and Etruscans, their use was spread throughout the world as Rome extended it's rule. The use of fibulae was supplanted by the invention of the button in the middle ages, but there are some cultures that continued its use still use fibula today as part of their culture.  As a form of art there is nowhere in the world that boasts such ornate fibula as North Africa.

The North African style of fibula are worn by pushing the pin through two or more layers of fabric, then turning the ring to hold the fabric and pin in place.  Many dancers continue to use these beautiful items to adorn forlkloric and tribal costuming.

Anthropology Blog with info on fibula:

Roman and Greek Jewelry:

The Red Camel generally has a selection of several North African
pieces available for purchase: