Antique Omani silver Triangle Earring Hangings (named Kharam or Sils), with ancient Venetian coins!!!!

Antique Omani silver Triangle Earring Hangings (named Kharam or Sils

Very rare (and interesting) Omani Triangle Earring Hangings (Kharam or Sils) with 12  (fire gilded) silver  Venetian coins (named Mishkash in Arabic) are at least over 210 years old.   These Mishkash coins are supposed to have special virtues for newly-married women. These old coins show on one site the Doge of Venice kneeling for St. Mark (the patron saint of Venice) and on the other side the image of Jesus Christ surrounded by stars.  See for more details Ref 1 by the famous Dutch Arabist Snouck Hurgronje.  In addition to the coins the earring itself  is probably also very old. In Islam human images in art are forbidden also it is forbidden to worship images or other gods, ironically that even in Mekka these Venetian coins with the image of Christ were favoured by local Arab women for jewellery....  The earrings and the coins have been fire gilded, however most of the gilding has worn of. This type of earring is very rare and old . The coins may have been bought in Mecca during Haj. However these coins were also used as coinage before the Maria Theresia Thalers started to be used.  Length: 57 cm long, Earring without chain 13 cm long.  Total Weight: 230 grams.

Antique Omani silver earrings


Antique Omani silver earrings

Antique Omani silver earrings with ancient Venetian coins with on one side the Dode of Venice and on the  other side the image of Jesus Christ! 

Arab name: Kharam (earring) Mishill (chain)

Period: 1700-1900

Origin: Oman Sur or Jaalan region

  1. Mekka Vol 1: Die stadt und ihre herren Vol 2 Aus dem heutigen leben; by the famous Dutch Arabvit Snouck Hurgronje Martinus Nijhoff 1889 . Snouck Hurgronje lived in Mecca for a period. See Volume 2 page 166-167:   Most remarkably is that around 1890 in the heartland of Islam (Mecca & Medinah) local Arab women wore  old Venetian coins with human images as an Amulet. Even more spectacular was that on one side of these coins  the image of Jesus Christ is shown!!

Antique Omani silver earrings


Antique Omani silver earrings

Soon after Snouck Hurgronje returned from his stay in Mecca, he gave a lecture about his experiences in Mecca in Germany. One of the people attending the lecture was the Omani Princess Emily Ruete. They met after the lecture and stayed in touch ever since. Even two of  the children of Emily continued corresponding with Snouck Hurgronje.

  1. 2. S.M. Zwemer  Arabia the cradle of Islam New York 1900 page 42-43 including illustration of a Venetian coin. For similar earring / hanger 
  2. 3. Ruth Hawley Silver the traditional Art of Oman (2000 edition) p 83 (but without the Venetian coins) suggests earring / hanger comes from Sur
  3. Richardson/ Dorr suggest Sur: The craft & heritage of Oman Vol 2 p 439 fig 24 top
  4. Traditional silver jewelry and handicrafts from Oman 2009 by Jean Greffioz p 39  (but different pendants)
  5. British museum on-line collection has similar (delicate) earrings  ref: 2009 6023 151-152 but no old Venetian coins. Pair of hoop earrings (dufuf) with long triangular pendants (kharam). The triangular pendants suspended from the hoops are decorated with applied stamped designs, beaded wire and are also entirely gilded using gold leaf. The apex of the triangle is decorated with a granulated bead resembling a mulberry. Four loops are soldered to the base of each triangle from which danglers resembling coins hang from elaborate chains. These types of earrings were worn by the women of the coastal town of Sur in northern Oman, with or without the triangular pendants. .....Also typical of the Sur region (and perhaps further afield too) were the heavy triangular hangings (variously called kharam, shilla, or hilya li-sha'r, "hair ornament"...). Silver versions of these triangular hangings may have also have been worn widely in Jaalan, and by the women of Sharqiyah, and by the bedouin women of Central Oman, who attached them by means of a small hook to lie above the ears.' See Miranda Morris and Pauline Shelton, 'Oman Adorned: A Portrait in Silver' (Muscat and London, 1997), p.74. According to Avelyn Forster, 'These earrings would almost certainly have been first worn by the owner for her marriage ceremony, and thereafter on special occasions and feast days. 'Disappearing Treasures of Oman' (Clevedon, 2000), p.52.
  6. British Museum also has a similar chain ref 2009,6023.185 Silver head-band or head-strap (mishill, literally 'support') consists of two separate bands of several finely-woven silver chains that are flattened down and held together by silver plaques decorated with stamped floral designs. The two bands are connected by a small central hoop. Attached to the central hoop is another chain with a sharp triangular hook, used to keep the mishill in place by hooking on the hair or headscarf. Large ear-rings (sometimes called ear pendants), such as the ghalamiyyah (see 2009,6023.174-175) are suspended from the small hoops at each end of the mishill, which bear the weight of these types of heavy ear-rings. Worn under the head-cloth throughout Northern Oman
  7. The National Museum of Oman Highlights published by Scala Arts & Heritage publishers in  2016 page 29 shows an example of a golden Venetian coin found in Oman. However it does not mention the image of Jezus Christ on one site and that in the 19th century Arab women loved these coins as amulets, even in Mekka!