Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Most cultures have at some point had a practice of keeping large amounts of wealth stored in the form of jewellery. Numerous cultures move wedding dowries in the form of jewellery, or create jewellery as a means of store or display coins. Alternatively, jewellery has been used as a currency or trade good, an example being the use of slave beads.

Many items of jewellery such as brooches and buckles originated as purely functional items, but evolved into decorative items as their functional requirement diminished.

Jewellery can also be symbolic of group membership, as in the case of the Christian crucifix or jewish star of david, or of status, as in the case of chains of office, or the Western practice or married people wearing a wedding ring.

Wearing of amulets and devotional medals to provide protection or ward off ev is common in some cultures, these may take the form of symbols (such as the ankh), stores, plants, animals, body parts (such as the Khansama), or glyphs (such as stylized versions of the Throne Verse in Islamic art).

Although artistic display has clearly been a function of jewellery from the very beginning, the other roles described above tended to take primacy. It was only in the late 19th century, with the work of such masters as Peter Carl Faberge and Rene Lalique, that art began to take primacyy over function and wealth. This trend has continued into modern times, expanded upon by artists such as Robert Lee Morris and Ed Levin.

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