British Museum collections, £12.99
Length: 24.000 cm
Gift of Mrs Frank Vans Agnew
Africa, Oceania, Americas
Woman's belt buckle
Kazakh, late 19th century AD
This gold buckle is part of a collection of forty-four items, featuring animal regalia, jewellery and costume, made in the area north of Lake Balkhash by a mining engineer between 1904 and 1910.
The Kazakh metalsmith's craft flourished in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when their work was actively traded in Russia. The most complete set of jewellery was bought or commissioned when a girl was to be married. Although the jewellery types which made up this set, including a headdress and plait decorations, were similar across Central Asia, women's buckles were a particular feature of those from the Kazakh region.
This piece features filigree, a technique not often found in this region, and reserved for more expensive and prestigious items. The two buckle plates are set with rhinestones (?) and turquoise, with further turquoise in the hanging pendants, and in the five larger plates which are also set with agates. The buckle would have been worn at the waist of a woman's silk coat or long waistcoat, and the Vans Agnew Collection includes examples of damask in red or blue, trimmed with gold or silver thread.
J. Scarce, 'The Middle East' in Ethnic jewellery (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)
N. Sychova, Traditional jewellery from Sov (Moscow, Sovetsky Khudozhnik Publishers, 1984)