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Symbols of Water

Updated on February 11, 2018


Symbols of water in Islamic jewelry in Central Asia.



   Islamic jewelry from Central Asia reflects different traditions through the history.

 Symbols of water can be seen mostly in woman jewelry, since it’s a close connection between water and fertility. The bride’s ensemble includes a lot of images of fertility. “Kosh- tillo”, (golden eye-brows) or “Boloabru”-diadem-pearls and chains-symbolized water.

“Mohi tillo”(golden moon)”Bibishak” made from silver, worn on the forehead and the temples, having a frog-crescent shape with chains, decorated with blue glass( imitation of turquoise) and pearl.

“Gajak” (“curl”-tajik) - temple-pendants in a shape of fish (some interpret as a hawk-shaped temple pendants) the small silver scroll is hung with seed pearls and blue glass. The ornament, used extensively in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from the early 19th to the early 20th centuries, was especially favored in Bukhara and Tashkent.

“Tunagich”-brooch fish shape or swan (water bird)

“Zhiga” –turban pin in a shape of frog head.

“Sar-suzan”- headdress pin (Bukhara) pendant frog-crescent shape, pearls

  According D Fahretdinova (“A song in Metal”, Tashkent, 1984)

The ninth-thirteenth centuries was a period marked by great social and cultural changes... From this period we have pendants, amulets medallions…with figures of animals, birds, Fish. An innovation was Arabic inscription around the images of animals, Frogs (frog-usually interpreted in close conjunction with water, and particularly with rain).

Fish –closely related symbolically to water, its life element. As a symbol of life and fertility.

 Nauruz in Central Asia celebrates on the 21st of March, when Venus is ascending in Pieces; it is the house of Jupiter (Neptune) the triplicate of Pieces is water; Pieces is feminine.

    Among the beneficent symbols linked with elements, and specifically with water, was the fish. Images of fishes, fish scales and fish tail are quite common on the ornaments worn by woman. The Central Asian metal smiths (zerghers) greatly favored fish- shaped pendants for necklaces and head ornaments; and to decorate bracelets, they used the “fish-tail”pattern. Fish image had long been current in the art of Central Asia thru the wall paintings of Balalik-tepe in the pottery from Afrasiab and Merv, sculptured panel depicting water and fish of Pianjikent. The fish image also occurs in carved woodwork, on the bone article of Khorezm and on glassware.  (N.Sicheva, “Traditional jewelry from Central Asia and Kazakhstan”Moscow,1984)

The shape of the twisted silver bracelets depicting Snakes was also associated with living creatures. Since ancient time, the snake symbolized many positive features in Central Asia. It was considered a patron of dwellings, families, grain, Water, Water Springs…

It was also a patron of women and children and its image was a protective charm.

Bracelets at the open ends with frogs and snakes survive thru the centuries as a symbol of fertility. The same archaic features are found on massive solid Khorezmian bracelets with scalloped open ends ornamented with dot and geometrical motifs. Similar motifs are found in clothing, household articles and amulets.

Almost all mythologies connect the snake to the earth female fertility power, the water and the rain.

The snake and the fish were interchangeable symbols.

Among the stones popular with the jewelers of the period were turquoise and pearls, by their color also symbolized water.

  Symbolic properties were attributed not only to stones also to a metals and silver is represent not only moon, water as well with connections to fertility.

The function of jewelry was not only meant to decorate the clothing: it was also connected to the life rites.



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