Talisman bearing a strong resemblance to the 'zar' ceremonial jewelry from Egypt
One of my favorites from this lot of Vintage collection. This square talisman features an engraving of a dancing woman and bears a strong resemblance to the amuletic jewelry used in the mystical 'Zār' ceremonies practiced in regions of Egypt, Sudan, and East Africa.
Apparently the Zar ceremony is carried out mainly for women, who are possessed by a spirit. To quote: "The ceremony focuses on communicating with the spirit- it is not an exorcism but a ritual to accommodate cohabitation. In order to do this, a trance-like state is induced by the zar musicians, who play heavy drums. Each individual spirit has its own music. The leader of the ceremony knows how to call for a certain Master and how to interpret his or her wishes. Many zar-spirits are known by name.
In addition to music, offerings, food, and the heavy smells of perfume and frankincense play an important role. Special charms and jewelry are also part of the ceremony. These amulets contain special symbols, both pagan and Muslim character, a schematic image of people, spirits, animals, fish, mythical creatures, as well as quotations from the Qur'an and Islamic prayer formulas."
The roughly cut and pried edges of the pendant and the remnants of a lac wash clearly mean that whatever this plaque was a part of, was cut up and recycled- likely to make made new pieces of jewelry. At some point, this unit revealed itself, was salvaged, and somehow made its way to an American collector whose Estate sale I found this piece at. Can't wait to see where it goes next!
*Comes strung on a waxed cotton cord with adjustable sliding knots. Helps change the length you want to wear it at.
Composition: Sterling silver.
Stamped: No visible markings.
Measurements: Approx. 4.8 cms by 4.6 cms (not including the loop/bale)
Weight: 12.5 gms
Country of origin: Likely Egypt
Please note: (1) All the jewelry in this collection is vintage, and thus neither new nor in mint condition. Wear, dents, scratches, oxidation, etc. are in keeping with the age of the jewelry.
(2) All the jewelry has been gently cleaned to remove surface dirt and oils but not the patina- which in our view adds immensely to the appeal of vintage pieces. While in great condition (none of the jewelry is broken/chipped/in need of repair), all were previously owned by someone else, and while not perfect each is full of old history and charm. Please use accompanying photographs to make your decision and be sure to ask any questions you may have before purchase.
(3) It is also worth reminding that since the jewelry is shot in close-up mode, the pieces may look bigger than actual size. Conversely, some large pieces may look smaller in pictures. Always refer to the mentioned dimensions.