Splendid Treasures of the Turkomen Tribes from Central Asia
April 24, 2010 to February 6, 2011
The Central Asian landscape can be bleak and harsh, but the lives of the Turkomen tribes who inhabit the region are enriched by their skill at creating sophisticated and elaborate jewelry. Splendid Treasures of Turkomen Tribes, an exhibition of recent gifts to the Museum, features objects created in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, focusing on the important milestones and rhythms of daily life of these semi-nomadic people. With social and economic needs to move with the seasons, wealth had to be portable, and so jewelry came to play an important role. These objects provide a unique window into the extraordinary decorative and spiritual elements of these tribes and their pastoral lifestyles. The jewelry, fashioned by Turkomen artists, was created from precious metals such as silver and gold and featured intricate forms and patterns ornamented with semi-precious stones. Reflecting tribal identity and their beliefs regarding time and space and heaven and earth, the geometric shapes and elaborate curved forms capture the cosmos, express desires for safety and continuity, and echo the relationship of the tribal people to their unique physical and cultural environment.