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Silver crown with gilt and carnelians (Unknown Turkmen Silversmith, 19th–early 20th century)

Silver crown with gilt and carnelians (Unknown Turkmen Silversmith, 19th–early 20th century)

Here is a beautiful crown made using plain materials and simple techniques.  It was crafted by a nomadic silversmith of the nomadic Turkmen people in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  The piece is at the edge of being a crown.  I guess purists or monarchists might argue that it is just a fine headpiece.  It is made with silver, plain carnelians, and cotton lining—perhaps for a chieftain or a high status nomad.  However the work is beautiful and cunningly made—it has much greater artistic merit than much fancier works.  I would argue that not only is it a crown, it illustrates a great truth about human affairs—If you are a nomad or a wanderer (or a member of some other society that  does not crawl before the great but runs away from them) monarchs do not mean as much.  Any nomad can put on a crown and declare himself a potentate. Of course, that line of thinking ignores what has happened to modern Turkmenistan where the entire society was enslaved by an evil alienist who wasted the entire treasury making huge marble follies in the desert.  Perhaps I need to tell that story!

Carnelian

Carnelian

Carnelian is a deep reddish brown semi-precious stone.  It is a variety of chalcedony (which is itself an intermixture of the silicaceous minerals quartz and morganite—with a dash of iron compounds for color).  Carnelian has been popular since the dawn of civilization for jewelry and for manufacturing objects such as beads, seals and signet rings.  Here is a headdress from the tomb of the three queens–a grave which held three foreign born Semitic princesses simultaneously married to Pharaoh Thutmose III (c.1475-1425BC).  The red slivers on the rosettes are made of carnelian (as were many beads and inlays from ancient Egypt).

Diadem with two gazelle heads and carnelian, turquoise, and glass (from the tomb of three queens ca. c.1475-1425 BC)

Diadem with two gazelle heads and carnelian, turquoise, and glass (from the tomb of three queens ca. c.1475-1425 BC)

Carnelian is widely available and popular in all sorts of ornamental objects up to the present day.  Carnelian is also the name of a deep brownish red color.  Today the color carnelian is also known as Cornell red, since it is the official color of Cornell University.

Carnelian--the color!

Carnelian–the color!

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