1.8.13

Coin jewelry from around the world

Girls from Nagaland, India. Photo courtesy Raj Kumar

Since first coins were minted they have been used by people as elements in jewelry. Their round form and size range made them very suited to use in ornaments. For those who could afford it, gold coins were used, and others had to be satisfied with silver. Obviously, coins are a symbol of wealth and showing them off in the form of jewelry contribute to the wearer's prestige. Besides in many countries coins were and are believed to possess mystic, amuletic powers. It is partly because of attitudes towards the metals of which they are made, and in some cases because of the images stamped upon them.

Cretan girl in traditional costume. Photo courtesy  Eleanna Kounoupa

For example, in India the old coins minted by the southern kingdom of Vijayanagar on which figures of Hindu deities are depicted or the Mogul emperor Akbar's rupees carrying words from the Quran, were seen as lucky and worn as amulets . In Venice the gold ducats issued in the name of the mid-18th century Doge Loredano bore an image of Christ and were issued to be worn as pendants by pilgrims. In Europe Holy Sacrament communion coins were thought to acquire healing powers over various deceases, especially rheumatism and epilepsy. Such otherwise normal coins, which had been offered at communion, were purchased from the priest and worn by the sick person in the form of a necklace, a pendant or a ring.

Armenian girl in traditional attire. Photo courtesy Ilya Vartanian

In America there was belief that a silver dime worn at the throat woul supposedly turn black if someone tries to poison your food or drink and even nowadays "Indian Head" cents are worn as amulets there to ward off evil or negative spirits. In Nepal to touch a woman's body with an old coin during delivery is believed to make the delivery easy; the same coin later functions as an amulet for the child. However, the most common belief in different cultures is that wearing coins attracts money.

Sherpa woman in a cap decorated with coins, Nepal

Coins are present in adornments of traditional costumes and in tribal jewelry of so many countries. Look at this Serbian woman's costume on display at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade. Her "apron" piece is loaded with coins, a real sign of great wealth.

photo source

Chuvash traditional costume may include several coin-decorated elements: a helmet-shaped headdress called tukhya; a sling called tevet worn over left shoulder and a heavy breastplate surpan sakki made of leather, earrings and a necklace.


Photos by G.Samsonov

In Western Ukraine girls used to wear an ornament called ducach (from ducat). It consisted of a large metallic bow decorated with gems or pearls and a pendant-coin.


Dancing girls often used coin jewelry since the jingling of the coins goes very well with the movements. This Quled Nail girl is wearing bands with coins which are tied around the neck and the head.

photo source

Turkmen women used to decorate their plaits with an ornament called sholpa. It was made from local tengi coins.


And this late Antique pendant from the British Museum incorporates a double-solidus (gold coin) of the Roman emperor Constantine I whose image appears on the front. These coins were issued in AD 321 and 324 to commemorate the second and third consulships of Constantine's sons. Such elaborate coin-set jewelry is believed to have been presented as imperial gifts to members of the emperor s family or to important political supporters.


The Indian Kasu Malai (gold coin necklace) has an interesting story behind its name. In the time of the Cholas one of the raja's toddy drawer discovered gold and secretly amassed great wealth. Upon being caught he was condemned to death, but before his execution the raja granted his request that his name, Sanar Kasu, would be perpetuated by the issue of a pure gold coin.


Iban girls' traditional adornments are so much impressive. Coins decorate the silver belt, skirt and anklets.

photo from here

And these are Macedonian festive attires on display at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

photo courtesy Karen Elwell

Tribal women from Orissa, India, use coins in many of their jewelry pieces.


photos courtesy Raj Kumar

Many modern designers create unique adornments using coins




by  Sarraf

Coins are such small and simple things but so many varieties of jewelry can be made using them.

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14 comments:

  1. coin is such an important part of one's heritage. used as an accessory adds more intresting element to it.
    loved it Olga!!

    btw do check out my NEW POST
    stay in touch
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  2. So much information to process. I've learned a lot from your post. You've given me an idea for a coin ring :) Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Such an interesting post, Olga. I love coin jewellery and have a cute 1950s/60s coin bracelet my mother brought back from travels abroad.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting information, I was aware of tribal use of coins in Asia, but not in Eastern Europe, which is logical because of the contact with the neighbour countries.

    This necklace http://www.ethnicadornment.com/producto/old-coin-bedouin-necklace-middle-east/ was found in Siria, but I think it was a headdress adornment more than a necklace.

    And here are some other examples, of coin jewelry from the other end of the world of colonial coin necklaces and rosaries from Guatemala http://www.ethnicadornment.com/product-category/america/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have very interesting examples of coin jewelry in your collection. Those who are interested in ethnic jewelry collecting can find nice pieces on your site.

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  5. Wow! I had no idea that the use of coins in adornment was so varied and pervasive. Thanks for an informative post with so many great photos.

    ReplyDelete
  6. CHERA COINS SANAR KASU VILLU KASU
    The Villavar Chera Kings displayed Bow and Arrow insignia of Villavars, Hill insignia of Malayar a Villavar subgroup and Palm Tree or Cocoanut Tree. Since the Villavar – Nadalvar people were involved in the cultivation of Palm Trees their coins also displayed the same. Even after the fall of the Chera kIngdom the Coins of Kerala continued to be called Sanar Kasu. When the Chera gold coins were not available after the fourteenth century Venetian Sequins, Gold coins which closely resembled the Sanar Kasu of the Chera Kingdom was used as substitute.
    In the Kongu Country some Chera descendents called Vanava Rayars (Vanavar a Villavar subsect) continued to rule over Kongu countryGanga-Kongu people occupied the Western Tamil Nadu. . In the laterdays the Vanava Rayars became chieftains under the Vijayanagara Naickers and mixed with the ethnically different Ganga-Kongu people who migrated from Gangetic plains in the fourth century and Established the Western Ganga Dynasty. Some of these Vanava Rayar –Villavar chieftains who became Palayakarar under Naickers continued to use the title Mavali the title of Villavar Nadalvar kings.
    The Coins from Chera Chola Pandyan Kingdoms displayed insignia of Various Villavar subgroups.
    Bow and Arrow of Villavar
    Hill of Malayar subgroup of Villavar
    Fish of Meenavar subgroup of Villavars
    Elephant insignia of Ay
    Tiger of Cholas
    Ummattur Chieftains of Kongu country who descended from the Villavar Chera Dynasty continued to issue Chera Coins until 16th century.
    http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,19630.msg132765.html?PHPSESSID=3e1f2438d905308d1c17e619f82b87a5#msg132765
    Stacked Cocoanuts, Palm Tree, Bow and Arrow, Fish insignia
    Palm tree over the Elephant indicating the overlordship of Villavar over Ay Kingdom
    Fish and Bow holding a Flag and a Palm Tree indicate the soverignity of Various Villavar tribes.
    Bow and arrow, person with a crown climbing a tree Palm tree

    Another coin display Palm tree, Sun and Moon indicate Surya and Chandra dynasties and Bow
    Another coin Bow Palmyra tree and climbing figure are depicted
    The last coin indicate Bow and arrow which has overlordship over Fish
    www.coinnetwork.com/photo/ummattur-chiefs-of-kongu-reverse-2
    Ummattur Chera Coins displayed Cocoanut trees, Climbing a tree and Bow and Arrow insignia of Villavar people.
    http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?topic=19630.15
    Another set of Chera Coins display coconuts stacked on back. On the Obverse the Bow and Arrow insignia of Villavars, a Palm Tree and Coconuts are displayed.

    http://www.ebay.in/itm/ANCIENT-INDIA-1005-AD-KONGU-CHERAS-GODESS-COPPER-COIN-RARE-C-/230885421102#ht_2962wt_906
    Palmtree, Coconuts and Hill the insignia of the Malayar subgroup of Villavar is displayed.
    http://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/coinindia/36/product/india_kongu_cheras_anonymous_copper_unit_unpublished/81271/Default.aspx
    Stacked Cocoanuts, Bow and Arrow insignia, Flag Post – Kodi Maram and Cocoanut tree engraved in the Coins.
    http://coinshoppee.com/coinshoppee/products/196-kongu-chera-rare-kerala-region-copper-cash-vf.aspx
    Palm Tree and Bow
    A coin from Later Chera Dynasty copper coin Period: 967 A.D. - 1263 A.D
    http://amadiocoins.com/catalog/coin/1282
    http://chennai.olx.in/100-genuine-1000-years-old-chera-dynasty-coin-of-tamil-nadu-iid-567049657
    Palm Tree, Cocoanuts, Fish insignia of Meenavar subgroup of Villavars, Moon indicating Lunar Dynasty, Bow and Arrow of Villavars
    Ummattur Kongu Chera Kings were defeated by Krishna Devaraya
    http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,19630.msg132765.html?PHPSESSID=3e1f2438d905308d1c17e619f82b87a5#msg132765
    When the SANAR KASU or VILLU KASU of the Chera Kingdom stopped a Venetian sequin –ducat was used in the Portuguese period as Sanar Kasu.
    http://www.indianetzone.com/22/venetian_coins_south_india.htm
    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/yw/2002/03/16/stories/2002031600100200.htm

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  7. The Sanar Kasu or Villu Kasu was issued by the South Indian Dravidian Kings of Villavar origin called Chera Chola and Pandyan Dynasties.
    Villu Kasu was the official coin of the Villavar Kingdoms. Sanar Kasu means Chieftain Coin. Villu Kasu means Bow Coin the official emblem of Villavar Kingdoms.

    ReplyDelete
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