AKM954, Pendant

© The Aga Khan Museum
AKM954, Pendant, Back

© The Aga Khan Museum

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  • Accession Number:AKM954
  • Place:Spain, Granada
  • Dimensions:Height 10cm
  • Date:14th–15th century
  • Materials and Technique:silver, cloisonné enamel
  • This brightly coloured enamel and silver pendant embodies techniques, inscriptions, and iconography typical of the Nasrid Period (1232–1492) in Al-Andalus, modern-day southern Spain. The Nasrid dynasty is still celebrated today for constructing the magnificent Alhambra Palace at Granada.

Further Reading


The pendant offers an excellent example of the ancient technique of cloisonné enamel, which involves partitioning coloured glass paste between strips of metal. The vivid colours on this pendant—orange, green, blue—were likely achieved by using coarsely ground glass, as larger particles maintain a greater intensity of colour. Cloisonné enamel is found on a variety of surviving Nasrid objects, including jewellery, armour, and caskets.


Certain elements on the pentagon-shaped pendant transform this jewellery into a talisman that would protect the wearer against malevolent forces and ill fortune. Called “apotropaic,” such elements include the khamsa or “Hand of Fatima” motif in the upper triangle and the Qur’anic verse (Sura 111, verses 1–3) running around the perimeter of the middle and lower section of the pendant.


A decorative pattern of repeated circles appears in some of the recesses, a motif that is also found on a comparable silver cloisonné enamel pendant of a similar size and shape in the Musée du Louvre. [1] The present object and the Louvre example are unique in that they have been made of silver; most surviving enamelled jewels, horse trappings, and belt buckles from the Nasrid period were fabricated from gold. This important object in the Aga Khan Museum Collection fills a gap in extant material and suggests that other silver Nasrid items may have once existed, but have since been lost or repurposed.


The presence of cloisonné enamel in Al-Andalus may have grown out of several earlier traditions. During the Visigothic period in Spain (ca. 409–711), jewels were ornamented with cloisonné partitions of gemstones such as garnet and lapis lazuli as well as coloured glass. [2] Given the long presence of the Visigoths in Spain, it is possible that these types of objects may also have been known to jewellers in Al-Andalus in the Nasrid period and earlier.[3]


The links between Nasrid cloisonné enamels and those produced during the Fatimid Period (909–1171) in Egypt (see AKM594) have been well established by scholars. [4] Jewellery in the Walters Art Museum from a horde said to have been found at Cordoba [5] and dating to the 10th–11th century, solidifies the relationship of Andalusian jewellery to that of the Fatimids. Whether these pieces were imported from Egypt or made locally, their presence in Spain indicates that this technique was known by at least the 11th century.


Inscription: Sura 112, verses 1-3


— Courtney Stewart

[1] Département des Arts de l'Islam, Musée du Louvre (OA 3013).
[2] See Belt Buckle, 550-600, Visigothic, Copper alloy with garnets, glass, lapis lazuli, and cuttlefish bone. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1988.305a, b).
[3] Michael Spink. The Art of Adornment; Jewellery of the Islamic Lands, Part Two (London: Nour Foundation, 2013), 470.
[4] Marilyn Jenkins-Madina and Manuel Keene. Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983), 92–94, and Michael Spink, 470.
[5] Jewellery Elements, 10th-11th century, gold filigree, probably originally with enamel, also inlaid with glass, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (57.1596). Said to have been found at Madinat Al Zahra.

The Art of Medieval Spain: A.D. 500-1200 [an Exhibition Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from November 18, 1993, to March 13, 1994]. New York: Abrams, 1994. ISBN: 9780870996856
Dodds, Jerrilynn D. Al-andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992 ISBN: 9780870996368
Gonzalez, Valérie. Emaux D'al-Andalus Et Du Maghreb. Aix-en-Provence: Édisud, 1994. DOI: 10.1163/156852098774249445
Hildburgh, W. L. “Images of the Human Hand as Amulets in Spain,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 18 (1955): 69. DOI: 10.2307/750288
Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn, and Manuel Keene. Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. ISBN: 9781588395702
Rosser-Owen, Mariam. Islamic Arts from Spain. London: V & A Pub, 2014. ISBN: 9781851775989
Spink, Michael. The Art of Adornment; Jewellery of the Islamic Lands. Part Two. London: Nour Foundation, 2013 [especially “Gold and Silver Jewellery in Islamic Spain” by Michael Spink and Jack Ogden, 470-477]. ISBN: 9781874780861


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