Vintage Silver Omani Rigid Foot Bracelet from Nizwa Oman with Defects
An amazing silver Omani rigid foot bracelet from Nizwa made anytime between 1900-1970. This type of anklet is called different names: Mattal, ental, hajil, khalkhal and natal. It is made of high grade silver and was worn in both Zanzibar and Oman. It is believed that the designs are influenced by Indian (Gujarati) jewelry. The theory is that the design originated in Gujarat with which Oman traded for a long time. After importing to Oman silversmiths in both Oman and Zanzibar copied the design and took over production locally while the original anklets in India became extinct.
The anklet has incredibly detailed repousse and chasing work decorating the majority of the surface area. The anklet is formed of two parts joined by a hinge on the back. Now for the catalogue of damage to this beauty. The hinge is held together by an ad hoc hooked thick copper wire which has replaced the original pin. There is damage to the silver sheeting in the hinge area. Also the original closure pin for this anklet has been replaced by a non silver pin with two dangles not original to the piece. There is aldo damage to the silver sheeting at the front of the anklet as well as dome depressions to the silver on one side. The defects in the anklet are reflected in the price.
Anklets were traditionally given as a pair to a daughter by her father to mark puberty. They were worn with the flat part of the two anklets facing each other on the inside of the ankle. You can see an 1862 picture of the Omani Princess Salme Said wearing a pair:
A similar pair can be seen in:
Ruth Hawley: Silver. The Traditional Art of Oman