Ancient Jewelry on Sale in Archaeological Museum
Necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, tiaras, fibulas, buttons. Macedonian women wore as much jewelry in the past as they do now.
According to a research, the most ancient jewelry dates back to 150,000 years ago, in other words 80,000 years before the Homo sapiens appeared whereby it is believed that the Neanderthal made jewelry out of eagle claws. There is much evidence that suggest that our ancestors made jewelry for their heads, necks, hands, legs, fingers in ancient times.
These findings are in line with an exhibition which is being held at the Archeological Museum of Macedonia titled "Jewelry across the centuries in the Republic of Macedonia". In addition, some of the copies at the exhibition can be purchased by the public. The exhibition has already been presented in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2015 in the Youth Cultural Center, and in 2016 in New York, USA, attracting attention both in the country and abroad.
"The exhibited artifacts represent a testimony of our cultural continuity and integrity, and the artistic tendencies and innovative spirit of the people inhabiting these territories from the prehistoric period i.e. 7,000 years B.C. up until the 20 century, which is a period of nearly 9,000 years of continuity. In order to meet the wishes of the Macedonian population, the exhibition is to be opened for the public free of charge in the following two months at the Archeological Museum of Macedonia in Skopje," says Vesela Chestoeva, Director of the Archeological Museum of Macedonia.
The exhibition shows the evolution of jewelry made and worn throughout the centuries, discovered by means of archeological excavations across Macedonia.
The curator Jane Klekovski was our host, and he unselfishly presented to us all his knowledge about jewelry in Macedonia. He guided us from the prehistoric period, through the antic, early medieval period, later medieval period, and the Ottoman period up until the present day.
"We had to divide the exhibition into several sections in accordance with the different periods since each epoch has its characteristics and features in terms of the manner in which the jewelry was made and the use of material for the making of the jewelry" the curator explained.
The exhibition depicts the creativity, capability and innovative spirit of the ancient great craftsmen and their treasures, the fashion trends throughout the centuries, and the need of people to adorn themselves with various types of jewelry so as to show their status in the society.
Some of the jewelry is a copy of the original one, and is not made of pure gold. The copies can be purchased for MKD 2,500-8,000.
"We have already sold some of the jewelry, in New York people reacted in a great manner to the exhibition. Women tried on the jewelry carefully so as not to damage it. They were fascinated that they could try, and even buy, such a piece of jewelry with long history at present time," the curator explains.
Since prehistoric times, when people discovered the secret of the use and manufacture of bronze, their life completely changed. Bronze was used for making various tools, vessels and jewelry. During this period, the then ruler elite wore jewelry in forms that reflected their religious beliefs, and from the bronze were made totem (animal) forms, forms of birds that people have decorated their bodies with.
Quite massive necklaces, earrings, rings can be noticed. At the same time, bronze was then something like platinum is today. They rejoiced that they wear jewelry, so it has been produced in more significant dominant form to be easily noticed.
During this period, those who could not afford this kind of jewelry, wore jewelry made from sea shells. It was cheaper, but not without a value, because they were shells from the sea who had to be brought from somewhere to our region, so they were also appreciated.
The most used jewelry, according to the findings, are the fibula. They attach to clothing and only can be seen because, as we said, the purpose of jewelry at this time was to attract attention.
The achievements of the ancient period mention gold as the most desirable material, not only for the production of jewelry, but also for other items, status that endures to this day. The shelf with antique jewelry will fascinate every modern woman. You will want to enreach your formal dresses with gold jewelry of this time.
The findings from this time are in the forms of a doves, lions, sphinx, deities and Negroids (black people). During this period people in Europe for the first time face the black race, so are fascinated by their appearance, and they reflect their character into the jewelry.
At the time of Alexander the Great, the wealth gained from the King, had a positive effect for the whole kingdom, and thus letting the masters learn amazing techniques for working with gold. All jewelry is manufactured in different forms, enriched with precious stones. Each creator of the product sought to be distinguished from others, so there was a market competition, but good craftsmen were prominent in that time similar as today.
- Dove earrings manufactured by one Master were not the same as the dove earrings from another master - the curator said.
During this period, people wore jewelry in order to show their status in society. Thus, these symbols were not chosen at random. For example, the Lions were worn to indicate power, so the people wore them. Also, jewelry was used with religious purpose, so people wore mythological and religious forms.
Here is highlighted the special status of certain persons who used their fortune for posthumous purposes, so the person's face were covered with the famous golden mask, but there were also those who were completely covered with gold.
Early Middle Ages
Even though pagan rituals still existed, the influence of Christianity started to be felt in the early medieval period. The division of the people, regarding the religion, can be noticed through the jewelry as well. Here, a great number of believers started getting baptized, so, on their necks, they started wearing big crosses made of bronze, relics with Christian iconography, with which the protective power of this religion was shown.
Late Middle Ages and Ottoman Period
This period brought new shine in the making of jewelry, and refreshment in the sameness they had until then. The new technique of filigree and granulation of silver stirred not only the craft fellowships, but also the people at that time. So, opposed to the gold that was barely available for these parts of the land, the silver could be used in any possible way. So, the use of filigree took off, and it is still popular at the market even today. At that time, the number of craftsmen increased significantly, the making of jewelry developed drastically in a very short time, and the need and wish for decorating started spreading for some other purposes as well - not only for distinguishing the upper class, bur also for the private needs of the common people.
The competition was great, so the competing of the craftsmen brought about the appearance of new techniques, innovative offers, and interesting creations.
Orders were made as well, so the craftsmen used the opportunity to raise the prices. And when it comes to the prices, if we compare them to the ones today, Klekovski says:
- We cannot make a comparison, the jewelry today is way more available, so that thing alone lowers its price.
When somebody mentions filigree, the first thing that comes to mind is the recognizable shape of the cardinal that was worn at that time as well, then again, they used most different forms of religious symbols, flowers, birds.
Even before the new era, not only did the Macedonian woman adorn herself with jewelry, but she only enjoyed taking care of her skin, so the findings of the prehistoric bowls contain fats that prove that even at that time make-up, powders, and different types of cosmetics were used. Perhaps they did not have mascaras, glittery eyeshadows, and the like, but they enjoyed in the power of part of the make-up that is still being used today.
Creams, elixirs, and other types of cosmetics were made on natural base. In fact, there was no other way at that time.
The most precious segment was not being dressed up, but being perfumed. Expensive perfumes, purchased from far places, were used. The smells were packed in interesting terracotta (ceramic) small bottle, decorated in a very specific way, with the aim to show the power of the product.
Macedonians especially differed from their neighbors for the symbol of the Sun, which was used to point out their divinity, immortality, and their specialness as nation. The cult of the Sun, which had existed from the prehistory, would show itself fully during the reign of the Macedonian kings. The symbol of the Sun was shown on the jewelry, as well.
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