Exquisite Adornment

Turkmen and Miao Jewelry from the Elizabeth and Robert Lende Collection

Exhibition Website

Oct 9 2020 - Jan 3 2021

Over the past forty years, Elizabeth and Robert Lende have assembled their collection from diverse cultures in the Middle East, Asia, North Africa, and the Americas. Exquisite Adornment: Turkmen and Miao Jewelry from the Elizabeth and Robert Lende Collection focuses on the jewelry from the Turkmen people of Central Asia and the Miao people of southwestern China. The exhibition also presents jewelry of the Hill Tribes from the neighboring region of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. Exquisite Adornment showcases the dazzling artistic traditions and diverse cultures represented by the Lende collection. 

Exquisite Adornment brings together approximately 120 pieces to present the unique aesthetic tastes preferred by the Turkmen and Miao peoples. The Turkmen jewelry is adorned with abstract and geometric forms and perforations. The contrast of silver and parcel gilding is enhanced by studded carnelians. Miao silver jewelry, however, usually displays an array of flora and fauna motifs derived from local beliefs. Miao jewelry also embraces geometric forms and shapes, but in a much more minimalistic style, such as the necklace designed to include a series of concentric silver rings and devoid of any surface decoration. 

Beyond the apparent visual differences between Turkmen and Miao jewelry, this exhibition explores their functions, materials, techniques, and rich symbolism. Similarities in these areas frequently outweigh differences. This suggests a social and cultural dimension shared by the jewelry from these two distinct cultures. 

Exhibition overview from museum website 
Image credit: Earrings (Gulk Chalka), Turkmenistan (Yomud), late 19th to early 20th century, Silver and carnelian, each 4 15/16 in. (12.5 cm), Promised gift from Elizabeth and Robert Lende, L.2020.23.83.a-b, Photo by Seale Studios

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