The origins of adornment

The origins of adornment

Throughout all cultures, we encounter a yearning to discover meaning in human existence. This may manifest itself in the ambition to create something that will outlive us. There is a desire to eternalise oneself, to bring the untangible “dreamworld”, Gods, saints, angels, ghosts and mystical creatures into the here and now. We often express our beliefs, our hopes and dreams but also fears, anxiousness and hopes through creation.

Sculptors and metalsmiths have transgressed boundaries between the real, the ideal and the imaginary. Their designs are often inspired by the mystical realm, the religious cosmos, the obscure. Traditionally, the processing of metals was reserved to a particular group in society, greatly respected for their handicraft and esoteric knowledge. Often, metals were combined with powerful protective substances or magical ingredients. The handling of fire has itself been a highly respected skill. As the smiths have had power over this natural force, and with it, over the transformation from one form into another, they have not only been respected, but also feared. Traditionally, their position in society has been half mystic, half human. When crafting jewellery, we often find the collaboration of an astronomer, amarabout, or a spiritual leader. Jewellery serves many purposes: it may be adornment, artefact in special festivities, powerful amulet or talisman, as well as financial asset.