Parure algerina

"Ibzimen", "Taessabt", "Tazlagt"

Algeria, Great Kabylia, Beni Yenni, 20th century
Silver, coral, hard stones and enamel
Collection of the Orestiadi Foundation of Gibellina


This parure comprises a pectoral (Ibzimen), a diadem (Taessabt) and a necklace (Tazlagt) decorated like the remainingkabylijewels with blue, green, and yellowenamel and corals. Kabylijewels are always made of silver, adorned with the filigree framing the enamel. Often, coral cabochons can be found in the center. Theymight look like heavy objects, but the ruggedness of theirarchaismdisappearswhen one notices the technical masteryunderlined by the geometric design of the decorations.

Gold wasneverused in making kabyliartifactsbecause of its high price and the beliefthatitwas an impure metal, according to the Quran. Silver waspreferredbecause of its clear color and itsluster, and for itsmalleability and ductility. Oftentimes, as in all of Maghreb, jewels are adorned with variouskinds of coins, that are thendecorated or enameled on one side. Coralis a common material for kabyli and berberjewels, enrichingthem with the warmth of its color; althoughitis of animaloriginitistreatedas a stone. Coralwasfished on the northern and easterncoasts of Algeria sinceancient times, asstated by the chronicler Ibn Hawqalstates in the 10th century.