All things change, cultures are always in motion. Things that are appreciated today, may hold little value tomorrow. Silver amulets or jewelry highly appreciated by Bedouin in older days, is today substituted by gold. The handmade silver pieces like Zar amulets are now sold to antiquity dealers and the money is invested in machine made golden jewelry.
Once in a while pieces that were almost forgotten turn up again. Five years ago, while we was researching Cairene veils, we questioned one of the old silver smiths (“the Doctor”) on the silver market of Cairo. We were looking for an object we had never seen, the Arousa el Burqa (literally the Bride of the Veil), a small amulet case. We knew the pieces from pictures, books and even advertisements (see above). We were sure the real object was somewhere to be found and studied in Cairo. For two seasons we found no trace of them, until we discovered one by chance on the market and was able to show them to one of the silver smiths we knew. Nowadays a lot more of these unique pieces appear, even traders find them and offer them to researchers and dealers.
The Arousa was only worn in Egypt during the last few centuries and was almost completely forgotten when in the 50’s many Cairene women abandoned the veil. To me they have become a symbol of change. It is extremely illustrative to see how fast a tradition can disappear and be almost completely forgotten in a changing world.