Exploring The Art Of Bedouin Jewellery

The intimate, meandering souqs of Muscat are rich territory for uncovering the treasures of Bedouin jewellery. And – whilst the latest succession of international runway shows reveal a Fashion World transfixed by the symbolism of crystal and gemstone – few locations offer a more intense or sensuous environment to discover traditional jewellery at its most alluring.

From anklets to amulets, the stalls of silversmiths are awash with colours and stories – alive in the warm ambers, agates and cornelian, brilliant turquoise and softly iridescent pearls. No detail spared; elaborate beading, intricate meshwork and Arabic inscriptions are all the hallmarks of this craft.

But beyond the emotionally transparent, “wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve” ostentation that so often characterises western notions of adornment, Bedouin jewellery has historically served a larger purpose.

Traditionally the preserve of Arabia’s nomadic tribes, jewellery provided the primary means of transporting wealth. Whilst a thread of stylistic continuity runs back thousands of years, with each generation that passed, pieces were melted down to return in new iterations or incarnations over the next. For Bedouins – personal expression is bound up inseparably with ideas of independence, security and even survival.

Today, pioneered by the likes of Gaia Repossi, haute jewellers are taking a more anthropological approach to their craft – borrowing forms and silhouettes from a broad range of cultural and ethnic references. In Muscat, at least, there is still the possibility to discover this allure in its purest form.
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