Galičnik bride's costume, head ornament (igla)

late 1800s or early 1900s

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Woman's head-ornament ('igla'), copper alloy with silver, with four chains linked by five central stamped ornaments. The three upper chains hung with small circular pierced discs, the bottom chain hung with amulets in the form of a cast element with three suspended discs. Red beads hang from the discs on the second and fourth rows. The chains end in hooks which can be attached to a headscarf at top and sides so that the amulets hang over the forehead.

Text from Eth Doc 1892, no. 86L: A head decoration, an 'igla'. Silversmiths work, from a town. A pear-shaped piece of two joined sections with a securing hook; have four linked suspended circular embossed pieces. From each central boss four chains link to a single pear-shaped boss with securing hooks. Each chain has suspended small circular pierced discs and the bottom chains have amulets with three suspended discs. Each disc on the second and bottom chains has an opaque red bead. The ‘igla’ is fastened to the crown of the head, onto the bridal scarf, and the amulets hang over the forehead. (The late Lucille Armstrong of the Anthropological Society thought that the suspended discs and beads represented raindrops, and were also found suspended from the brims of the hats of the Romanian ‘Calusari’, ritual dancers. Part of the bride’s dowry. The Mijaks are a matriarchal society of Albanian origin.
Religion: Macedonian Orthodox.
For other parts of this attire see: 139: jacket; 140: shirt / chemise; 141a + b: bridal sleeves; 142: waistcoat; 143: coat; 144: upper sash; 145: bridal apron; 146: headscarf; 147: scarf; 148: socks; 149: silver buckle; 151: coin chain.Information supplementary to Eth Doc:
For illustrations of these head ornaments in wear, see G. Zdravev, 'Macedonian Folk Costumes I', Skopje 1996, col.pl. 14: a Mijak woman's festive costume, and V. Salopek, 'Danses et Costumes de Yougoslavie', Zagreb 1997, p. 87, a woman from the Prilep region. The ornament was attached to the headscarf using the three hooks at top centre and sides. It was worn for fetching the first water for use in the bride's home, and later for special occasions. According to Olive Lodge, 'Serbian Wedding Customs: St Peter's Day in Galicnik' (East European Review, vol. 13, no. 39, April 1935, pp. 670-1), after the wedding ceremony, on the fourth day of celebrations, she fetched the first water for use in her new home and wore on her head ' a white hand-woven fringed scarf', with 'a kind of silvered chain cap, with silver coins attached to it; this she would continue to wear on special occasions during the year, expecially during the next fortnight.'


  • Title: Galičnik bride's costume, head ornament (igla)
  • Date Created: late 1800s or early 1900s
  • Location Created: Macedonia (former Yugoslav Republic)
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 22 centimetres Width: 30 centimetres Height: 22.3 centimetres (at centre)
  • Provenance: Given by Ken Ward
  • Copyright: © The Trustees of The British Museum
  • British Museum link: Eu1997,04.150

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