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