This coming March Danaca Design will be hosting a show featuring tiaras and crowns in many forms called Crowning Glory: Ruling Our Own Destinies, Directing Our Own Paths. While the artists will be exploring the diverse cultural, artistic, historic, and social narratives of these accessories April decided to look into the history of these royal accessories to use as a post on the Danaca Design blog. It turned out to be a fascinating subject so instead of making one post she turned it into a four part series being posted every Monday in February leading up to our show opening and reception on Friday, March 2, 6-8:30pm. This week part 1 is focused on the ancient history of tiaras and crowns.
Tiaras, crowns, these head ornaments have been used for centuries to symbolize social superiority and power, have a history going back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Originally these head pieces were called a “diadem” derived from the Ancient Greek “dia dein” meaning “to bind around”. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs would wear gold head-bands that could be decorated with tassels and other ornaments that hung over the forehead, temple, or even down to the shoulders.
An excellent example of this is the diadem discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun, King of Egypt in ca. 1339-1329 b.c.e. (pictured above) Discovered during the excavation of his tomb in 1922 the kings mummy was adorned with a gold diadem formed in a circlet, at the front a detachable gold ornament with the head of a vulture and the body of a cobra, symbolizing the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt. It is also inlaid with glass, obsidian, carnelian, malachite, chalcedony, and lapis lazuli.
In Ancient Greece diadems were made from all kinds of metal, and with a limited amount of gold available, Greek metalsmiths would decorate them with embossed rosettes, filigree, and other motifs such as the Heracles knot which was found frequently in Hellenistic jewelry. Once Alexander the Great opened up the gold supply from the Persian Empire in 331 B.C.E. the styles became even more elaborate and often contained intricate garlands of tassles, leaves, and flowers.
The shift from diadems as just a circular band to what we now consider tiaras and crowns today is attributed to Ancient Persia, now Iran. The original term “tiara” is Persian in origin and in its original form describes the high peaked head decoration worn by Persian kings. However in ancient Persia crowns were worn in many forms and ancient authors did not always distinguish clearly among the various terms for them, making the most reliable evidence for forms of Persian crowns/tiaras are the depictions on objects such as monuments and coins.
Kings from the Achaemenid period wore tall and serrated golden crowns, called a crenelated crown, which was adorned with gold leaves and colorful jewels. The 22 or 24 serrations of the crown symbolized towers, battlements, temples, or the Sun. The Achaemenid queen wore a jeweled crown with a thin piece of cloth reaching her knees attached. Based on historical documents it seems that the only difference between the King and Queen’s head wear was the thin cloth.
However it was not just the royal Persians that wore head covers to denote status in society. From writings by the ancient Greeks it appears that a tiara was a soft headdress often with a high point and members of the Median upper class wore these high, crested tiaras. Median civilians and officers covered their heads with round and soft egg-shaped felt caps which were decorated with lace. Ancient reliefs depict archers with these caps and a crenelated diadem worn over them. Upper class Achaemenid women wore long headscarves some reaching down to their ankles. This shawl-like headdress was not wrapped under the neck but was usually worn with a diadem on top very similar to many popular bridal veil styles worn today.
Well that wraps up part 1 of this 4 part series. Honestly it is really hard to figure out when to stop because their is just so much fascinating history but if you want to check out more really cool pictures of ancient diadem, crowns, and more I suggest going to The Metropolitan Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org where you can browse their entire collection online.
Check back next Monday to find out about the crowns and tiaras of south and east Asia…I can’t wait.
Greek diadem: Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich via http://metmuseum.org Metropolitan Museum of Art
Achaemenid Seal: The Met, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/323560?sortBy=Relevance&ft=achaemenid&offset=20&rpp=20&pos=29
Coin with Tigranes: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tigran_Mets.jpg; Author unknown
Rachel Shimpock will be teaching at Danaca Design, Sept 30 – Oct 1 and as a bonus she’s bringing her awesome jewelry and having a pop-up trunk show with Barbara Knuth!
We are sooo excited to see Rachel’s current collection. As usual the original “kitchensmith” has created a collection that highlights her sense of humor and kitsch to create jewelry that will certainly get some attention.
Barbara is debuting a new collection so come get the first chance to see (and own!) one of her newest pieces.
Not familiar with Barbara and Rachel? Read on for more info:
Rachel Kassia Shimpock is a California native raised in Orange County, Ca.She received her MFA in the Jewelry/Metalsmithing program at San Diego State University with Professors Helen Shirk and Sondra Sherman.
At age 11 she got separated from her parents in historical Williamsburg and wandered into a smithy where a blacksmith let her hit steel with a tiny sledge hammer, she’s been smitten ever since! Metal and the format of jewelry in particular speaks to her and for the last 12 years has allowed her to communicate personal stories and there are many! Rachel is carrying on the legacy of her family and her trade by teaching workshops and art classes utilizing any opportunity to spread the gospel of metals and jewelry!
Barbara lives and works in Seattle and was the 2015 Seattle Metals Guild Emerging Artist award recipient.
Barbara Knuth’s work contemplates the experience of the bereaved. After a loved one has passed, there is a longing for return; she feels an urge to ‘put things back’. Fueled by a need to reconcile with the past, she repairs and restores detached branches and cut sections of trees. Using the familiar bodily forms of a tree, Barbara creates sculpture and body adornment that act as memorials. Metal, wax, and salt are used in combination with the wood in efforts to preserve and salvage the items. Repetitive processes such as wrapping, stapling, and pinning are meditative and express a passing of time.
We can’t wait to see what both of these wonderful jewelry artists bring! Want even more time hanging out with Rachel while she is in town? There is still room in her powder coating class too!
Shake and Shoot: Powder Coating With or Without the Gun
September 30, October 1, Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00
Class Fee: $325 | Materials included
Powdered Plastic that fuses into a glassy plastic surface in a home toaster oven? Yes, it can be done with or without the gun! Easy, quick and inexpensive powder coat is a fun way to add color to any surfaces that can tolerate a little heat like metal, wood or… If you love color this is another tool in your toolbox. Basic metalworking skills helpful but not necessary.
To register call us at 206-524-0916 or stop by the studio at 5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA
The House Rules! show 2017 – May 1-June30
Opening Reception May 5, 5:30-9:30pm
5619 University Way NE, Seattle WA
Friday, May 5, is the reception for, The House Rules! our group art jewelry show, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Traditionally, this event has been a fundraiser for our scholarship however this year we’ve decided to raise funds for the American Civil Liberties Union. The theme for our special fundraising exhibition is, MAY DAY!
50-100% of sales from these special exhibition pieces will be donated to the ACLU. Friday night, May 5, a minimum of 25% of ALL SALES IN THE GALLERY will be donated to the ACLU. On Friday night we will also raffle a class of your choosing with 100% of raffle ticket sales going directly to the ACLU.
Raffle tickets are on sale now for $10 each or 3 for $25. These can be purchased in our studio. Cash or check only, please make checks out to ACLU.
Please join us to share in our warm-hearted community and raise funds to protect our hard earned American rights, no matter what your politics.
Refreshments served with meze provided by Cafe Paloma.
Raffle drawn 8:30 (although you do not have to be present to win!)