Sunday, December 3, 2006


In my book silver is far more beautiful and precious than gold, there has always been something "special" about it, bedouin jewellery to be precise is a favourite of mine. Commonly crafted and worn by tribal people for centuries from Morocco Kazakhstan, in African and Arabian regions, embellished with stones, rocks, coral, shells, beads, glass, bells and more.

When I was a child living back in Pakistan my grandma from Kurdistan sent my sister and I these little silver anklets with bells hanging from them on all sides, even though my mother kept some beautiful silver and lapis pieces in her jewellery box, from rings to dangling earrings, thick bangles and cuff bracelets which she often adorned herself with, yet I was overjoyed with the gift my grandma sent me, it was beautiful and ever since it inspired my passion for these works of art.
No doubt there is something very special about these pieces, they are often crafted with very basic tools and by very skilled poor people. Each piece unique in it's own way, often there aren't two pieces alike, however some designs, patters as well as stones and material can give away the region and area they were created in.

Below as well as above are some photos of silver from Yemen, coral is very popular there and used frequently and heavily to adorn the silver as well as create beads. At the old city of San'aa there are plently of stands or shops selling necklaces, head-dresses, earrings, bracelets, bangles, rings, anklets, belts and much more. Some more elaborate than others, some light and some very heavy. I was told the pieces are priced according to the weight of the silver by the grams and not the craftsmanship, design or pattern.

Jambiyas are daggers worn by local yemeni men, they tuck them into a lavishly embroidered belt, it's part of their national dress and while it is a traditional practice most men in Yemen still wear it on a daily basis.
Women however rarely wear the silver jewellery, I've often asked local women why, they explained that it's more about history now. For example I noticed a photo of a girl all covered up with traditional bedouin jewellery at the local photo studio, I get the impression that today it's used more as heritage costuming in parties and plays that everyday use.
Gold is definately favoured by yemeni women, even young teenage girls will buy gold with any allowence that they gather, they often exchange, buy and sell using gold like a stockmarket. Still in Yemen like other parts of the middle east Bahraini gold is known as the best and therefore it's very much prized. Gold from Dubai UAE, the famous gold souks are second best.

In places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India Lapis is popular, it's used along with silver and gives an amazing look, one of my favourites actually. Ruby and Emerald, rough and unpolisehd are also easy to come by in Pakistan.

In Egypt and Syria mother of pearl is crafted into pieces of furniture, jewellery boxes and more. Morocco has a style all it's own, and just as lovely!

Clothing, handicrafts, wall-hangings, bags and more are often adorned with pieces of silver jewellery from coins to pendants to chains, headpieces are sometimes worn in ceremonies as well as over women's veils as a part of the bedouin culture in many arabian regions.

At modern weddings in yemen it is popular for the bride to wear a golden veil made purly of gold laced together to form a beautiful lattice work -see through- piece covering the face from below the eyes. It is a new trend now in Yemen among young brides to follow the bollywood and indian style outfits.

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