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Vintage Silver Egyptian Zar Pendant with Chain

Vintage Silver Egyptian Zar Pendant with Chain

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A very rare antique silver zar amulet holder from Egypt. This pendant is worn in a ritual called the zar (visit) which is meant to appease the spirit that dwells in people, usually women. 

The amulet is shaped as a rectangle with the saying mashallah meaning "according to the wish of Allah" sawn into the silver. It has 5 dangles called galagil which make sound with movement. This pendant has an assay mark for 60% pure silver. It also has the old cat assay mark, so it is likely it is from the first two decades of the 20th century. A similar pendant can be seen in The Enchanted Jewelry of Egypt by Azza Fahmy. The pendant would have been attached to the clothing or head scarf of a participant or a leader of the zar. Instead, this pendant has been linked to a silver chain to create a necklace. It is in great condition for its age.

Zar jewelry was essential to the ritual which involved a lot of rhythmic music and dancing. Run by women for women, the only male attendants of the zar were musicians. The purpose of the ritual was to appease the spirits that have inhabited a body, but may in fact act to release the psychological pressures experienced by women in their daily lives. The zar jewelry is becoming as much a rarity as the zar ritual itself which is now frowned upon by secular and Islamist sectors in Egyptian society.  

  • length of the chain is 47.5 (18 1/2").
  • The length of the pendant is¬†3.7 cm¬†nearly¬†1 1/2".
  • width is¬†3.5 cm (1 3/8") with the dangles adding another 2 cm (3/4").
  • Weight is¬†20 grams.
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