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
Come play with fire this summer! Spend three Wed evenings, July 12,19, & 26, 6:30-9:30 learning everything you need to start doing this fun and fast form of casting.This class is only offered once a year and features, among other things, sand casting, cuttlebone, and tufa stone casting. Gravity Casting is a great way to learn metal casting with out a huge set up like lost wax casting and is a great class to use up any scrap silver you might have laying around.
Gravity Casting is a permanent casting method where metal is heated until it is molten and then poured into a mold. The molds can be made of many materials such as metal, sand, tufa stone, and cuttle bone. In jewelry making the most frequent mold materials are sand casting, tufa stone, and cuttle bone.
Learning to cast isn’t just about making jewelry components. By knowing how to cast you can alloy your own metals; for instance creating sterling silver out of fine silver casting grains or pouring ingots. An ingot is a block of metal typically oblong in shape. Ingots can be rolled out in a rolling mill (creating sheet or wire) or can be forged. Pouring ingots is a great way to use up small bits of metal scrap and shavings getting the most out of your precious metals.
This metal casting technique takes advantage of the properties of a finely porous bone-like internal organ that is shared by all members of the cuttlefish family. Using cuttlefish bone to carve out molds in order to cast is one of the oldest casting methods on record. It creates a very distinct texture that is unique to carving the cuttlefish bone. Cuttlefish bone will wash up on beaches from naturally-deceased animals all over the world. It’s ease in carving and accessibility is probably what led to it being used as a mold material since ancient times.
Tufa Stone Casting
The Spanish coming to New Mexico and Arizona is what brought the tradition of silversmithing to the American South West. They taught the Navajo and Pueblo people how to cast molten silver to create jewelry and other items. The mold material that they used was tufa stone. Tufa stone is a soft and porous volcanic stone that can be found in many parts of the world including the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Tufa stone can be easily carved and withstand high heat making it an excellent mold making material.
Sand casting is a metal casting process where sand is used as the mold material. Jewelers and industry uses the sand casting process and it is the most commonly used method in industrial casting. The basic process is that a pattern is made in the sand and then molten metal is pored into this recess. Once cooled the casting resembles the pattern made in the sand.
Have we got you interested in gravity casting yet? Come check out this class and all classes on the summer schedule at Danaca Design by clicking right HERE!