Coins

 

Bridal, personal wealth and status of women in Bedouin or traditional societies in the West Asian and North African region is often measured by her costume and jewellery. This status can be displayed by different valuables, but coins sewn onto dress is a very direct reference to this wealth, since the value of the coins was guaranteed by the mint. Often coins are sewn onto veils or headgear or sewn as breast decoration onto dresses. Coins may also be incorporated in jewellery. These coins not only represent wealth, they also a ward off malevolent forces. Specific coins may be appreciated for their depictions. For instance the two pillars on the Spanish pillar dollar who came to symbolize iron (canon) weapons that may successfully confront evil. In the 18th century the Maria Theresa Thaler (nicknamed for instance Abu Rish – Father of Feathers) slowly replaced the Spanish Pillar Dollar (nicknamed Abu Madfa – Father of Guns in Egypt) as most popular coin in the region. Of both coins imitation have been made over the years, not as counterfeit currency, but rather as amulet, since original coins became more scarce over time. These amulets are especially important to the study of silver since they often supply information on silversmiths in the region as their names are often presented on the (imitation coin) amulets.
 
Although coins may suggest a possibly successful date for the object they are sewn onto, dating (for instance) veils with the use of coins is very difficult and provides of course only a relative date. Although any coin on a veil may represent a terminus post quem date for the veil, any more reliable dates are almost impossible to give, based solely on coins. On veils, various datable coins may be sewn that are more than 1000 years apart in minting date. To get some indication of the true age of such a veil, one may inventory the coins that dominated the veil and use this as a terminus post quem for the production date of the veil. It is safe to assume that the production date for the veils is close to the date on the majority of the coins and older coins were merely added as heirloom for their potential strength and luck bringing qualities. Dating with the Maria Theresa Thaler represents another problem since the coin was minted long after the death of Maria Theresa and the date on these new coin has remained 1780 ever since.
 
Sometimes the coins used to decorate dress are flattened or deliberately damaged before being used, in order to lessen the monetary value of the coins. Also, imitation coins of lesser quality are used in costume. In this way one may still produce the pattern of coins desired for the costume, but with much less financial means. These sequins often also contain a date. However, dating with these coins is impossible, since these sequins are pressed in molds that may be used over and over again without changing the numbers on the molds.

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