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forehead-ornament

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    2009,6023.137

  • Description

    Silver horse-shoe shaped forehead-ornament (harf or 'allaqah) reminiscent of a Hand of Fatima amulet. The ornament was once worn hung from silver chains which have broken off. It consists of a reversed shield or horse-shoe shaped plaque with five finger-like protrusions. The plaque is decorated with silver beaded wire and a raised round boss in the centre that is flanked by two circles of twisted wire.Worn attached to the hair as an everyday item by young boys up to the age of six throughout northern Oman (see 2009,6023.139 for the version worn by girls).

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  • Date

    • 1950s
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Weight: 12 grammes
    • Length: 4 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    For similar examples see: Ruth Hawley, 'Silver: The Traditional Art of Oman' (London, 2000); Jehan S. Rajab, 'Silver Jewellery of Oman' (Kuwait, 1997); Neil Richardson and Marcia Dorr, 'The Craft Heritage of Oman' (Dubai, 2003).

    Accoring to Pauline Shelton, 'It was called dinar (after the coin of the same name) in many places, including the Capital Area, where it was also called tag (meaning 'crown'), while in Sur it was called shemrukh...the name given to the hanging, date-bearing branch...in the Interior town of Rustaq, the names 'ar'ur or 'alaka were used; while people to people in parts of the Sharqiyah, especially Jaalan, it was known as 'urf...(...comb or crest on the head)...In some parts of Oman, the harf was traditionally worn by boys in the hope that harmful spirits would mistake him for a girl, and thus not bother to bring ill upon him. The harf seems to have been one of the first pieces to be gold-washed or gold-plated, as gold became more readily available.' Miranda Morris and Pauline Shelton, 'Oman Adorned: A Portrait in Silver' (Muscat, 1997), p.63.

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  • Condition

    Fair

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    2009

  • Acquisition notes

    This object is part of a collection of 20th century silver items (2009,6023.1 ff.) acquired in Oman between 1987-1995. This collection was mainly acquired in the markets of Nizwa, Mutrah and Rustaq and a small number of pieces were acquired in Sur, Wadi Bani Ouf, Bahla, Ibra and Ibri.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number

    2009,6023.137

Silver horse-shoe shaped forehead-ornament (harf or 'allaqah) reminiscent of a Hand of Fatima amulet. The ornament was once worn hung from silver chains which have broken off. It consists of a reversed shield or horse-shoe shaped plaque with five finger-like protrusions. The plaque is decorated with silver beaded wire and a raised round boss in the centre that is flanked by two circles of twisted wire.Worn attached to the hair as an everyday item by young boys up to the age of six throughout northern Oman (see 2009,6023.139 for the version worn by girls).

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Object reference number: RRM41701

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