This is another installation of the series of articles about the visit I made to the Museum of Islamic Art and Architecture in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which I made more than a year ago.
After visiting the extensive Textile gallery, we come to a small, square shaped area which displayed the museum collection of Jewellery, made by Muslim artisans.
Understandably, the nature of Jewellery being very luxurious and thus, very expensive to obtain, more so when they are historical artifacts, the gallery are just a rather small area set between the Textile Gallery and the Arms and Armour Gallery. When it is rather a small collection, it is no less important than the rest.
It is a known fact that many of the finest gemstones and subsequently, jeweleries came from the Islamic lands. Koh-i-Noor and the Darya-ye Noor, two of the largest diamonds in the world, came from India, which strengthens that fact. gemstones such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli were favoured by the elite Islamic communities, and made them into jewelries. The most finest of them would be made by the skillful artisans in India. these would be the ‘exclusive’ types of jewelry. In this gallery, you would also find tribal jewelries that were obtained from Morocco to China, with different stones such as Agates and Carnelian, set in silver. This, according to the Museum, would be known as the ‘Ethnic’ type of jewelry.
In all honesty, I was not very ecstatic about this collection – My untrained eye still sees them as nothing but Jewelery ; nothing that ties them to the Islamic traditions apart from the fact that they were made by Islamic artisans (Islam, by the way, does not encourage such extravagant luxury). However, looking at some of the tribal jeweleries, which usually in the form of crowns, necklaces, earrings, anklets and others, I can imagine them being worn at important, perhaps religious events – A collection of coins strung into a necklace, given by a mother to her daughter, the crown being worn by the bride over her veil on her wedding day, A golden bracelet, a gift from a husband to his wife… In the end, it was not really the extravagance and the materials or the beauty that mattered, but the history behind each piece, the story is what mattered.
A very large (and, I can image, very heavy) necklace of emerald and pearls, set into gold.
A crown of red coloured stone, probably carnelian or maybe red glass, with Central Asian designs. This is clearly a part of a tribal costume.
Another crown dripping with antique coins. Crowns in this gallery are not that of Royal kind, but mostly they were the ones worn for ceremonies or celebrations.
A jewelery set, made with red coloured stones set in silver, decorated with leaf-shaped silver medallions. I did not, unfortunately, paid attention to the placard but I assumed it is another (very heavy looking) headdress.