The Bedouin are a nomadic people who live in the Middle East. This necklace is from Saudi Arabia, where the donor purchased it at a small marketplace outside the city of Jeddah. As seen here, silver is the preferred metal for Bedouin jewelry. Bedouin women in Saudi Arabia and Yemen wear this type of heavy necklace, known as labba, as one piece of the jewelry that forms an important part of her dowry. Traditionally, the bridegroom pays a dowry to the bride’s father, who then uses a portion of that money to purchase wedding jewelry for his daughter. The jewelry becomes her personal property that stays with her even in the event of a divorce, providing a source of financial stability if needed.
The necklace is made of a variety of silver pieces with filigree and repousse work linked together to create a mesh similar to chainmail. This necklace features four rows of tiny bells, a style that is especially common in central Saudi Arabia. The bells are designed to make a pleasing sound as the wearer moves.
This necklace is the subject of our 2023 Conservation Fund campaign. Before the necklace can be exhibited or used in teachings, it must be conserved. The string on the necklace is in danger of breaking and needs to be reinforced to stabilize the piece. Additionally, there are several small areas of corrosion that must be treated to keep it from spreading. Learn how you can contribute to this important project.