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Belt Closures from the Balkan States, Asia, and North Africa

Exhibition  /  17 May 2015  -  15 Sep 2015
Published: 20.04.2015
Belt Closures from the Balkan States, Asia, and North Africa.
GfG
Management:
Christiane Weber-Stöber
.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
Belts as functional adornments have a long tradition of representing the person´s status, believes and great craftsmanship of the makers. Not only exquisite embroidery as an early form of figurative drawing, but also intricate techniques as filigree and inlay were used for embellishment. Intensified exchange of knowledge and goods along trading routes as the silk road, gradually influenced the use of materials and the way of expression.
As do all articles of clothing, belts and their closures are governed by fashion. Not only do they keep skirts and trousers in the desired position and hold open garments closed, but also they can express wealth, social status, and regional origin. Many belts and belt closures additionally serve as jewelry. A further aspect is much more difficult for the observer to interpret – their magical or symbolic meaning.

The exhibition displays around 150 examples from 30 countries belonging to an extensive private collection. The exhibition pieces demonstrate an immense diversity of design elements such as elaborate ornamental patterns, landscape views, botanical motifs, and human forms. Here, a wide spectrum of different techniques, design inceptions, motifs, and artistic details is represented. Originally, belts were made of natural materials such as leather, hair, wool/cotton, or silk. Later, precious metals were also utilized, primarily in the crafting of closures. The actual fasteners were hooks and eyes or hinges held closed with a pivot and were often covered with decorative plates.

One of the origins of the art of the goldsmith can be traced to the Near East. The ornamentation is a combination of the ancient oriental legacy and the motifs from the three religions stemming from Abraham – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Many symbols were common to all three. Among these is the hexagram, which in many places, beginning in the 20th Century and spreading from Europe, was often understood as a secular symbol of the Zionist Movement. In the Arabian Caliphates and in the Ottoman Empire it was primarily the Jewish masters, the Christian Armenians, and the Muslim Caucasians who developed the art of the goldsmith to the golden age that we still admire in jewelry collections today.

Jewish works are brilliant in their perfect execution of filigree work and granulation, while the Caucasian and Central Asiatic goldsmiths often utilized niello, an inlay of a blue-black mass on a silver base, to give their works their characteristic ornamentation.

The intermingling of the peoples of the Ottoman Empire is also reflected in their jewelry culture. Thus we find similar belt closures in Macedonia, Bulgaria, Asia Minor, Syria, and the Caucasus. Among these, special mention is merited by the large-sized closures of the Kurdish men’s traditional costume which remind us that earlier, the belts worn by both sexes had this type of closure.

As in the Balkan countries, in the rural areas of Northwest Africa people also originally used belts made of wool. In the Aurès Mountains, from which came most of the examples shown here, silver belts were not found in wider distribution until the middle of the 20th Century. In Central Asia, as in the Mediterranean area, it was primarily the urban upper class people who wore metal belts or richly decorated leather belts.

Through the trade routes such as the Silk Road, the Far and Near East were always connected to each other by reciprocal influences. The result is a map of cultural regions without distinct borders that are to be understood only as sections of a continuum: India, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan.

At the hub lies Tibet which is represented in this exhibition above all by several beautifully ornamented tinder pouches and coin purses. They remind us that the belt often played and still plays an important function as a carrier. The further distant an area is from the Islamic region, the more frequently do figural representations appear. In India and Southeast Asia, these are mythological, Hindu, or Buddhist motifs, while in China, the addition of artistically fashioned botanical and zoological motifs are notable.

A special characteristic is exhibited by the belts and closures from Japan in their material as well as in their ornamental technique. Here, the formal side is decorated with several closures made of Satsuma porcelain.-2016-2016
Unknown. Buckle: Untitled, 1920-1940, Buchara, Usbekistan. Silver, niello, enamel. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Buckle: Untitled, 1920-1940, Buchara, Usbekistan
Silver, niello, enamel
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Buckle: Apsaras, threepart, 1920-1940, Burma. Silver.. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Buckle: Apsaras, threepart, 1920-1940, Burma
Silver.
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Buckle: Untitled, around 1940, China. Jade. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Buckle: Untitled, around 1940, China
Jade
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Buckle: Unknown, Iran. Silver, filigree. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Buckle: Unknown, Iran
Silver, filigree
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Buckle: Untitled, early 1900s, Fuji, Japan. Brass inlay.. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Buckle: Untitled, early 1900s, Fuji, Japan
Brass inlay.
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Belt: Untitled, 1904, Karbadin, Kaukasus. Goldplated silver, niello.. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Belt: Untitled, 1904, Karbadin, Kaukasus
Goldplated silver, niello.
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Clasp: Untitled, early 1900s, Ladakh?. Coin silver.. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Clasp: Untitled, early 1900s, Ladakh?
Coin silver.
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Belt: Embroidered Fabric Belt With Metal Clasp, Morocco, urban Jewish. Fabric, silverthread, metal, enamel. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Belt: Embroidered Fabric Belt With Metal Clasp, Morocco, urban Jewish
Fabric, silverthread, metal, enamel
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Buckle: Untitled, Marocco, Berber, Fekroun. Silver, filigree. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau. Unknown
Buckle: Untitled, Marocco, Berber, Fekroun
Silver, filigree
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
Part of: Deutsches Goldschmiedehaus Hanau
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Unknown. Buckle: Untitled, around 1900, Ottoman Empire or Kurdish. Silver, filigree. Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht. Unknown
Buckle: Untitled, around 1900, Ottoman Empire or Kurdish
Silver, filigree
Photo by: Alexander Zickendraht
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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