Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Egyptian Fez Ornament, 1800-72

Fez Ornament
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The 1851 Great Exhibition inspired a series of “London International Exhibitions” which took place in South Kensington in 1871, 1872, 1873 and 1874 in order to showcase fine arts and scientific inventions.

In the 1872 Exhibition, one emphasis was on jewelry, including so-called “peasant jewellery.”  The Exhibition Commissioners arranged with the South Kensington Museum (later the V&A) to create a massive collection of peasant jewelry from “all parts of the world, which should become public property, for exhibition in the Museum after the close of the Exhibition.”
This ornament is part of that collection. The piece was described in the future-V&A’s register as an “ornament for the top of a fez or tarboosh” (a tarboosh is a round brimless red felt hat) from Egypt.

The jewel is comprised of a silver disc from which hang seventeen chains and pendants. The pendants appear to represent common domestic Egyptian objects including: a hammer, an axe, a sword, a coffee pot and a frying pan.  It was made in Egypt between 1800 and 1872.

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