african gold jewelry

Greco-Roman Gold Earrings with Garnet African Heads, 2nd Century BC-1st Century AD

The jewelry of the Hellenistic and early Roman periods is among the finest of the ancient world, unsurpassed in richness of subject matter and composition, luxurious media and exquisite attention to detail.

This type of African head pendant originates from Greece, from the third to second century BC. Images of Ethiopians and Nubians were popular in Egyptian art but were relatively rare in the Mediterranean world until the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great in the late fourth century BC suddenly exposed the Greeks to the peoples of the African continent. As part of this new and intriguing Nilotic landscape, images of Africans evoked the distant and exotic cultures at the edge of the known world. The popularity of Nilotic themes coupled with a Greek tradition in jewelry of elaborate figural pendants (for example, beads, acorns, vessels, and female heads) led to the depiction of Nubians and Ethiopians as part of the popular repertory of wearable art. Initially, heads were fashioned wholly in gold, but by the late third and early second century, semi-precious stones were incorporated into the composition, as here. Materials rich and warm in color, such as carnelian, sardonyx, amber, and garnet, were all transformed into African figures, not only rendering each piece more elaborate, but also imbuing them with a striking liveliness and depth of character.

The use of gemstones set into gold jewelry remained a popular practice in the early Roman period; precious stones were said to have held magical properties and were considered markers of high social status. Pendants and earrings in the form of African heads seem to have been particularly popular in Italy, with examples known from Bari and Ruvo.

A pair of gold earrings with the head of an African in garnet is in the collection of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (inv. no. 57.1562-3, circa third century BC), and a similar pair from Cyme, Turkey, is in the British Museum, London (inv. no. 1877,0910.28, circa fourth to third century BC). However, these examples are earlier, and lack the clarity of form and sharpness of carving evident in the present pair.

African King Robbed of His Crowns in Germany Sunday, 07 December 2014: _______________ Céphas Bansah, the king of the Gbi tribe in Hohoe, Ghana who rules over his people via Skype and telephone from Germany, came home this weekend to find his royal regalia stolen, The Times reported. Céphas, his full name Togbe Ngoryifia Céphas Kosi Bansah, 65, lost four crowns, along with golden chains once belonging to his grandparents from his home in Ludwigshafen, about 80 km south of Frankfurt. The tribal prince turned local celebrity had chosen to remain in Germany following a student exchange trip in 1970, becoming a certified farm machinery and automotive mechanic. In 1987, following the death of his grandfather, the tribe’s leader, Céphas was chosen to be king. Both his father and older brother were left-handed, and the Gbi tradition only allows for right handers to be enthroned. Refusing to leave his newfound home in Germany, Céphas has lead his 200,000 subjects via digital communications technology including phone, fax, email, and Skype, visiting his tribe about six times a year. Despite his remote rule, Céphas, who is a local celebrity in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany, has succeeded in bringing clean drinking water, electricity, schools, a bridge, and a hospital to the remote villages of his tribe, raising money via a non-profit organization, including financial and material assistance from donors in Germany. Céphas frequently appears both on local and federal television programs to raise awareness for his non-profit organization, and is also a singer, having released half-a dozen CDs. No further details are yet available as to the identity of the burglars, whether they knew whom they were robbing, or the location of the king’s jewels. via-@

AFRIKART - model: Francine James, Riley Montana, Grace Bol, Nykhor Paul, Lineisy Montero, Amilna Estevão - photographer: Iango Henzi + Luigi Murenu - fashion editor: Patti Wilson - hair: Luigi Murenu - make-up: Virginia Young - Vogue Germany December 2015


Greek Gold African Head Earrings, 3rd-2nd Century BC

Each with a carnelian cameo bust of an African, the hair formed from gold sheet adorned with flattened loop-in-loop chain, the neck with gold collar decorated with filigree, a single carnelian bead below with gold collared terminal with filigree decoration. Hellenistic.