I'm trying to identify the origins of a metal pendant that features some engravings and red semitransparent stones or glass.

The pendant appears Christian in its symbology and came into my possession as an inherited item through a Catholic relation, who believes its origins to be medieval.

Front with measurement back side

The metal looks like copper to me, judging by the colour and oxidation on the back.

I won't guess as to the nature of the red stones, other than to say they don't appear to be plastic (they feel hard like silicate).

I'm really at a loss as to what century to place this in. It has no visible inscriptions and appears certainly hand made. Judging by the amount of flaws it also appears to either be very old or manufactured with simple tools. There are also visible imperfections in the red material;

enter image description here click to enlarge pictures

Can anyone venture a guess as to what this thing is and where/when it comes from?

  • 1
    That thing look very large. And heavy. Too heavy to be a neckless, except perhaps in a ceremonious setting. Where do you live? How far back (time, location) were you able to trace how it got into your hands? Apr 23, 2019 at 4:16
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    Fascinating item, and the location in the world might shed some light on its possible origins. It may have actually been larger at some time,as the connections on the sides and bottom may have held some form of pendilia
    – justCal
    Apr 23, 2019 at 12:39
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    @DenisDeBernardy not very far unfortunately. It was given to one of my relatives by a Godmother of Spanish descent. Her belief is that the origins are from the time of the crusades. I'll try to find a bit more information before posting back.
    – quant
    Apr 23, 2019 at 13:34
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    @quant please edit the source information into the question itself, as comments often get deleted.
    – justCal
    Apr 23, 2019 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


Might be a more recent origin.

enter image description here

Lot 485: Antique Turkmenistan Silver Ornaments Tribal Jewelry. (3) Sold: Log in to view, Palmyra Heritage Gallery, December 9, 2018, New York, NY, US

Description: Antique Turkmenistan Silver Ornaments Tribal Jewelry. (3) Size 5 3/4 – 4 1/4 inches length. weight 134.25 grams. Lot of 3 antique Turkmenistan Russian Orthodox Tekke. This antique tribal gilt silver ornaments with stone inset, decorated with ornate design, is a typical Turkomen design. A traditional for women in the Turkmenistan region.
Medium: Antique, Turkmenistan, Silver, Ornaments, Russian, Turkish, persian, Tribal, jewelry,

Another similar piece lists

Tribal Turkmen antique silver pendant. Yomud Turkmen group silver work. Five irregular shape large carnelians stones in the form of amulet against “evil eye”. Three of the stones are in tabel cut form and other two are domed. Double fine wire work frames with corner loops to have dangles.
enter image description here

But the religious affiliation seems "flexible" (note the URL pointing to islamic-central-asia-ornaments):

Antique Turkmen (Turkoman) Yomud Tribe Pendant, Turkmenistan, Central Asia, 50 Grams
This is a collectible early 20th century classic style handcrafted Gol-e kamar (waistband) of the Yomud Tribe from Turkmenia (Turkmenistan) in central Asia.
I have identified the pendant from the last listing photo - detailed as Belt Elements from Turkmen Yomud People, Quai Branly Museum, Paris and this pendant was at one time part of a more elaborate belt.
The diamond shape has a 7mm band border of decorative silver platted wire applied around and a central table cut carnelian in a bezel setting. There is also filigree and applied units.
The back has a bronze border added also extending at the top to form a bale.
There is beautiful wear on this piece, particularly three diamond point which are now rounded. This is a very common sign of wear that you see on many of these type of pieces.
The pendant has been silver tested for approx. 800 (80% silver or 800/1000).
I have not polished the pendant as it has the lovely worn patina but will polish up beautifully.
Width: 7.5 cm (3")
Height: 11.5 cm (4 1/2")
Weight: 50 Grams (1.765 oz.)
Pendant Tested: 80% Silver approx.
Turkmen Chain: 48 cm (19") 92.5% Sterling Silver
enter image description here

While one auction mentions the "Tecke" (French Wikipedia) and "Russian Orthodox"

A 2009 Pew Research Center report indicates a higher percentage of Muslims with 93.1% of Turkmenistan's population adhering to Islam.

Personally, I deduce from this the probability that the shape we see is cross like, but more geometry than Christianity. But trusting the auctioners from the first link this is perhaps from the 10 remaining percent of the population there: "Turkmenistan Russian Orthodox Tekke".

Things to consider for that: while there is a certain cross shape, this is really neither a proper Latin, nor a Greek, nor an Russian (Orthodox) cross.

If it is Tekke, then it was to be worn in this style:

enter image description here
via Turkmen jewelry (source)

Metropolitan Museum on Turkmen jewelry gives some of the keys to making finding this easier:

In addition to the shape and theme of the silver metal itself, the semi-precious stones that embellish the jewelry are also imbued with protective powers. Pieces of carnelian, a bright red colored stone, are popular because they are believed to protect the wearers from illness and death (2006.544.13a).

  • 2
    Interesting that the geometry matches the Christian 5-wounds pattern. But some of the detail on the upper image are exceptionally close to the OPs.
    – justCal
    Apr 23, 2019 at 14:42
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    @LangLangC: Impressive find! I'd be interested to know how you went about searching for this.
    – Brian Z
    Apr 23, 2019 at 14:43
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    @BrianZ Searched visually for a few visual descriptions (that omitted interpretations, like christian, medieval etc but varied the likely metals for that [copper jewelry is rare]), then focused on the type of stone, Turkmenistan came up with probability higher than expected (afghantribalarts.com/turkmen-jewelry), so I added that and finally switched to yandex instead of ggle for the same, then I scrolled a bit… Apr 23, 2019 at 15:31
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    Good article from the Met. I agree it doesn't look to be religiously affiliated at all, just a nice connection to local cultural traditions. Good work searching, I tried Carnelian, but kept trying to associate it with crosses, byzantine, or medieval. Silver probably would have done it...
    – justCal
    Apr 23, 2019 at 15:47

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