The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Cypriot traditional jewellery is a rich mix of oriental design and Greek workmanship. Western pilgrims to the Holy Land frequently passed through Cyprus, and the Cypriot goldsmiths absorbed influences from Western Europe as well as Ottoman Turkey. Their work is similar to jewellery from elsewhere in the region, but the quality is often higher. This belt was acquired as a piece of Cypriot jewellery in 1888, but in design and function it is much more typical of Ottoman work of an earlier period.

The design of alternating circular and diabolo plaques probably originated somewhere in Central Asia. A belt with this design was found in a 1st century nomadic grave in Afghanistan. By the 19th century, the design was found over a wide area, and was particularly common in the south Caucasus, where belts with interlocking slides, like this, also often decorated with niello, were worn universally by both men and women. The details of this belt are however quite different from those.

Metal belts of any kind were uncommon in Cyprus in the 19th century, where most women wore embroidered belts with large ornamental silver clasps. This belt therefore probably dates from the 18th century, as it was described when acquired, and may have been made on the island, or somewhere else in the Ottoman Empire. It would originally have had a prominent clasp, rather than the hook and eye which it now has.

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  • Title: Belt
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1700/1799
  • Location: Cyprus
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 58.5 cm approximate, difficult to measure accurately until laid truly flat
  • Medium: Silver and niello, with copper alloy bars, on a belt of blue and white striped cotton


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