The jewellery art has an ancient traditions evidenced by museum collections. The scientists guess that the earliest items used as a decorations appeared in lithic age and it was something made by the nature itself � polished by the time, fall-outs, wave energy stones, shells, teeth and bones of animals.
In the ancient time, the jewelleries served not only as a criterion of wealth. People used to believe in their magic power and used as talismans.
Local History Museum of Mary Velayat presents all types of traditional Turkmen jewelleries like man, woman and children decorations, amulets as well as samples of horse harnesses inlayed with cornelian and small stamped silver plates.
The profession of jeweller was pure of a man and required filigree technique and artistic feeling. The secrets of the skills were kept in the family and passed down from father to son or relative in husband line. In the XX century, the jewellers started to take talented boys as trainees regardless of relationship and gave them their knowledge for free, provided housing and food and awarded them for their diligence. Normally, 10 � 12 year old boys used to be apprentices. For the first years of study, they were entrusted with the most primitive work like to blow the bellows or clean the workshop.
Gradually, seeing the interest and skills of the ward, the master gave an opportunity to show himself and ordered some simple work. For the years of study, future jeweller mastered almost all technical methods. To get the title of the silver master could be possible only by making own item. If the apprentice succeeded then he underwent initiation to the master. After the ceremony, the mentor used to gift the tools and material for work to his ward and one of the elders, on behalf of the apprentice, presented the teacher with a robe (don) as a sign of great respect. However, long time after that young master had to show his items to the mentor prior taking it to the market.
The silver that client used to bring to the jeweller was the main material for making Turkmen decorations. It happens very often when people gave old jewelleries or silver coins. Use of this material was explained by the belief to its sacral power. Women preferred to wear silver jewelleries inlayed with cornelian, which organically mathed national dress of Turkmen women.
Most often, the jewellers used fretwork, engraving, stamping, gilding of silver base, inlaying and smithery as the main technical methods. In the beginning of the XX century, coloured glass, mastic and beads started to appear in the jewelleries together with cornelian and calaite. Lower parts of items started to be decorated with various stamped pendants, coins, little bells and chains.
Girl and woman adornments occupy special place in museum collection of jewelleries. Even today, it is hard to imagine traditional woman dress of Turkmen woman without silver adornments decorating the dress and headgears and covering neck and arms. Laconism of forms and ornament and stylistic harmony is character feature of Turkmen jewelleries.
According to national superstitions, the adornment talismans protected and scared off evil spirits and attracted good ones, success and wealth, saved from diseases. Amulets were the first decorations for the babies, which were attached to the clothes. The adornments had a practical role � when baby started to crawl he used to be dressed in kurtekche � the dress with little bells. The mother, busy with the housework, was able to know where her child is by hearing the ringing. Ok-ay, the amulet in the shape of charged bow with an arrow, which usually was sown on the dress for the boys to grow up a strong and brave men, is one of the most unusual child mascots.
Modern masters of jewellery derive their inspiration from unique items made by their ancestors hundred years ago. Careful attitude to cultural heritage allows us keeping mental originality while developing and enriching the traditions, generating creative ideas and new approaches meeting modern requirements.
Source: Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper