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Jewelry makes up a substantial part of wearable heritage. These objects traditionally used to adorn the body, often also hold secondary functions. It keeps the wearer from harm, brings good fortune, or displays social status. Jewelry often decorates the extremities of the body, the torso and head. But jewelry may also be worn on elements of dress, and are then referred to as costume ornaments. Items of jewelry are often economic investments in environments where no banks or other means to store or safeguard your money are available. Carrying it with you at all times is the only alternative. Jewelry may also represent a specific occasional purpose. It may be given to a bride on her wedding day, or to a mother giving birth.
Most jewelry from the Asian and African region is quite large, but often very delicately made. To be able to place jewelry roughly in its region of origin, a few main characteristics can be given here. Enamel, for instance, is often used in the Maghreb, and most elaborately in Algeria, but also in Morocco. Here, amber is also highly valued. A very distinctive kind of costume ornament from this region is the fibula. Fibulae are remnants from the Roman occupation in this region. Jewelry from Jordan and Palestine is often decorated with niëllo. Shapes in jewelry from this region resemble both Egyptian and Arabian styles. On the Arabian Peninsula jewelry is also influenced by Persia and India and often shows delicate granulation and filigree work as well as intricate chain work. This kind of jewelry is also typical for the other shore of the Red Sea: the East-African region. Egypt shows much engraved and embossed plate-jewelry as well as large, hollow items for anklets.
In both the Maghreb, the Arabian Peninsula and Palestine red coral is often used. Further towards the Asian continent jewelry changes to even larger shapes, decorated with many different types of precious or semi-precious stones (especially lapis lazuli) set into the metal work. Animal decorative motifs dominate here as well. Turkmen jewelry is characterized by the combination of gold or copper and silver. Often this is combined with the use of orange-red stones like carnelian and sometimes lapis lazuli.
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