Belt clasp (1)


The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Throughout the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, from the north Balkans to the Caucasus, large and elaborate clasps were the most important item in a woman's dowry. The women who owned them sewed them onto cloth belts which they made themselves, usually richly embroidered. The only men who wore ornamental clasps were bishops and other senior ecclesiastics. Their clasps were often decorated with religious themes.

The cone, comma, or paisley-shaped clasp is one of the commonest and most characteristic designs throughout the former Ottoman region.

Cypriot clasps are part of the general Ottoman tradition, but are often more sophisticated and decorative than those from elsewhere. The goldsmiths of Cyprus were famous for their filigree, often enriched with blue and green enamels. They rarely marked their work. This clasp probably dates from the 18th or early 19th century. It was bought in 1888, just after a terrible famine, when many people had to sell their family heirlooms.

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  • Title: Belt clasp (1)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1750/1850
  • Location: Cyprus
  • Physical Dimensions: Width: 23.5 cm, Height: 8.1 cm, Depth: 1.2 cm
  • Medium: Silver-gilt with filigree, enamel, and pastes

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