Ottoman Oman Yemen Turkmen Jewellery
Author: Oytun Evliyazade Camcigil
Photographers: Rahadir Taşkin & Yağmur Göknel Aronis
Publisher: Gilgamesh Publishers UK, 2017
Format & layout
265 x 340 x 32 mm (10.4″ x 13.4″ x 1.3”)
Text and images on a white background
Photos, Illustrations & Diagrams
As the book’s flap text states: “This is a remarkable aesthetic celebration of history and heritage.” It is indeed a beautiful book about beautiful jewellery beautifully photographed. Each spread has more than one image showing jewellery artfully staged to show the impact of the whole piece while celebrating the smaller details and the intricate craftsmanship. The book also includes a few fabulous images of models adorned with jewellery. There are no illustrations or diagrams, but a few maps are included to introduce each geographical area covered in the book.
The author’s fascination with jewellery started while she was an architecture student in Istanbul during the 1970s. Browsing the bazaars at this crossroads of East and West set her on a path of collecting, studying, and later designing her own pieces.
Over time it became increasingly clear to me that there was more to jewellery than its decorative function. The history of each item raised a whole host of questions. Who made it? Did it have a purpose beyond visual beauty? Who were the lucky women to experience the joy of wearing it? Why did they choose to sell it? What hardships did they encounter? What was the journey that brought it back to the market? I would allow myself to daydream, not satisfied until I had imagined the story behind each piece. When I bought something, I would try to respect and treat the item with the appreciation its maker and original owner would have wanted.
In this book, the author shares her own personal collection and the knowledge she gained while researching and studying the origin of her pieces of Ottoman, Omani, Yemeni, and Turkmen jewellery.
The book is divided into nine chapters, preceded by an introduction and the author’s preface and acknowledgements, and followed by a bibliography and an index.
The first two chapters are introductions to Amuletic and Talismanic Jewellery as well as the use of Semi-precious stones.
This is followed by four chapters looking at the four regional styles – Ottoman, Oman, Yemen, and Turkmen. The collection of each region is divided by style or purpose in categories such as Headdress, Breast ornaments, Bracelets, Necklaces, Belts, Rings, Anklets, and Earrings.
In each chapter, the historical and geographical context is explained, as well as who, why, and when each item was worn. There are short references and descriptions of the artisan skills such as silversmithing, but it is not discussed in great detail in the regional chapters. In the last chapter, Jewellery Making Techniques, the author describes and illustrates with photos the different processes and techniques used, such as granulation, filigree, enamelling, and engraving.
The second to last chapter, Creations, showcases the author’s own jewellery designs and creations using elements from heritage jewellery but making it less bulky and more suitable for contemporary use.
I believe that studying architecture has lent me a keen ey e and an attention to detail, as well as the patience needed to create distinctive and well-blanced pieces. Each piece of jewellery has its own unique character and they all hav a fascinating story and a timeless beauty behind them. On all of these pieces, the marks of the past are clear to be seen if we know how to look for them. Invariably each is asyntheisis of different clutures, and each casts its reflection on our modern times creating perfect harmony.
Not only is this a beautiful book showcasing beautiful jewellery, but it is a story told on two levels. Firstly it is the story of each item – its origin, use, heritage, culture, and design – but it is also the story of an artist, creator, and collector – the author’s love of jewellery that started many years ago in the bazaars of Instanbul, has culminated in a wonderful, important, and most importantly treasured collection of artefacts that honours the past and brings value to the present.
At The Zay Initiative, we appreciate this story of an interest from youth that leads to the custodianship of a collection, and a responsibility to protect and educate future generations, as that is our story too. Oytun Evliyazade Camcigil, we see you.
Get your copy here.
Other jewellery book reviews:
- Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba – Marjorie Ransom
- Egypt’s Wearable Heritage – Jolanda Bos
- Silver & Frankincense – Sigrid van Roode
- Desert Silver – Sigrid van Roode