Silver jewels from Turkmen tribes

The Turkmen are nomadic herdsmen by origin, that inhabit in a wide area comprising some regions of Iran, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. They made and used a big array of silver ornaments that are still much sought after by museums and collectors.

Much of the jewellery known today was made in the 19th or first quarter of the 20th century. The jewellery worn then was usually displayed at the marriage and the first years of marriage and was part of the dowry. There could be around 7 to 8 kilos of silver on the bride.

Turkmen headdress
turkoman bracelets

Importance of Turkmen jewellery

The importance of jewellery among these central Asia tribes follows different reasons:

  • For nomadic herdsmen, jewellery represented one of the very few possibilities for safe investments. Silver could be melted and sold anytime.
  • Being the Turkmen a political and econimic power-oriented society, family wealth had to be display through women in the family.
  • Also, as the families moved from camp to camp, they needed wealth that could be easily stored and tranported.
  • Apart from these reasons, the jewellery were meant to protect the wearer. Turkmen of all ages and both men and women use amulets. The most important Turkmen tribes in terms of jewellery are the Tekke, the Ersari, the Yomud and the Sarik.

There are different styles depending on these tribes. Tekke tribe fancied carnelian more than other tribes. Yomud tribe decorate jewellery with gilded losanges. Ersari not gilding and more austere lines.

Most important types of Turkmen jewellery:

  •  Head ornaments that could reach 30 to 40 cm. One of the most popular is the egme, that was worn only a few decades at the beginning of the 20th c.
  • Earrings heavy, usually hang down from the templeas and are attached to the headdress
  • Bracelets and finger rings
  • Neck and breast jewellery, which included amulets or tumar and big breast plates
  • Tumar: the triangular shape date back from pre-islamic times, joined with a cylindric holding an Islam related text Also protective meaning, not only the materials used (carnelian, silver) but also the shape of the jewellery.

In the past few decades Turkmen jewellery has become increansingly sought after. Both museums and private collectors want ítems to add to their collections -which have also allowed a flourishing fake market. The recent history of these tribes has also accelerated the dissapearenca of Turkmen jewellery. At the end of the XIX century Russians melted a big amount of silver from the Turken as War compensation. The following historical facts and wars in the region and the upcome of the Sha in Persian with the idea s of modernization were also variables that helped toIt is also not easy to find good quality pieces.

ersari pendant
Turkmen ring
Yomud earrings
turkmen pendant tumar
Turkoman earrings