Near East, Persian, ca. 20th century CE. A stunning 18K gold necklace comprised of 28 birds created via openwork filigree and granulation techniques - skillfully constructed and beautifully designed. The birds may represent Huma birds - mythical avian creatures from the Sufi fables that is also regarded as a bird that symbolizes good fortune, compassion, and happiness. According to legend, once one sees a Huma bird - even its shadow - happiness will follow for the rest of one's life! What's more, in ancient times, it was believed that if a Huma sat upon an individual's head, that person would become a king. Size: 15" L (38.1 cm); Weight: 51.9 grams
Filigree and granulation are among the oldest goldsmithing techniques. The techniques involved include twisting silver or in this case gold wires and soldering incredibly tiny beads comprised of the same precious metal onto the surface of the piece of jewelry. This very complicated technique requires painstaking attention to detail that relatively few jewelers have ever mastered. Ancient civilizations such as the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Etruscans developed the methodology; filigreed and granulated jewelry continued to be popular in the Roman empire, and was also sought after by the Slavs, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings, remaining popular throughout the Middle Ages. In fact, modern jewelers still utilize these ancient goldsmithing techniques.
See beautiful examples of ancient gold jewelry of the Near East that displays similar sophisticated filigree and granulation techniques in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - earrings and pendant (accession number 2007.340 - V) and a pair of earrings (2006.273a,b - https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2006.273a,b/)
Provenance: private New York Collection, USA; ex-private John Barnard, Jr. collection, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; acquired from St. Thomas gallery, owned by Patti Cadby Birch (a collector of Islamic art who donated a room to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC)
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