Urban Gypsy is collection of trinkets strung onto sturdy kangaroo-hide leather. Designed to be worn as a long single layer piece, or double wrapped around the neck for a shorter necklace sitting around the décolletage area.
• Old silver-alloy cylinder bead, and scalloped edge coin chain pendant, circa 1960s, from the nomadic Banjara Tribe of Northern India (see history menu below).
• Miniature skull pendant intricately carved by hand from deer antler, using a 300-year-old design passed down through generations of a family of carvers.
• Antique silver-alloy 'telsum' prayer box protective amulet, from the Oromo People of Ethiopia, circa early 1900s (see history menu).
• Cowrie shell cluster from East Timor (see history menu).
• Knotted kangaroo-hide leather.
Image No. 4 - An Oromo woman of Welo Province, Ethiopia wearing a string of prayer boxes, (Photograph by Angela Fisher).
Image No. 5 - Historical image of a group of Banjara women heavily adorned with their traditional dress.
About Ethiopian Prayer Boxes:
Ethiopian prayer boxes are traditionally made from an amalgamation of silver, alloy and/or nickel. Some are elaborately decorated and feature granulated designs created with melted silver. Worn by the Oromo People as protective amulets from various perils and superstitions, these particular amulets date from the early 1900s.
The triangular shaped silver boxes are believed to fend off evil spirits and the evil eye, where crescent shaped amulets protect against the powers and spells of the crescent moon. Square, rectangular and irregularly shaped pendants also serve similar purposes of protection.
About the Banjara Tribe:
The Banjara People are a collective of nomadic gypsy tribes from Northern India. They are said to be the descendants of the Roma gypsies from Europe who migrated to India through the rugged mountains of Afghanistan and finally settled in Rajasthan.
Originally the Banjara’s were bullock transport carriers and builders of great monuments. For centuries they efficiently moved their enormous caravans through the vast roadless tracks of India guaranteeing safe conduct for grain, salt and messages.
Due to the nomadic nature of their culture, the Banjara’s traditionally ‘wore’ their wealth thus creating a unique aesthetic, colorful dress and spectacular jewelry quite unlike any other tribe.
About the Cowrie Shell:
Destined to transfer good luck, fortune and material wealth to those in its possession, the cowry shell is considered a deeply spiritual and highly valued object in African culture. The cowrie carries with it the blessing of Moté, ancient deity and goddess of water, also affectionately referred to as ‘Mother of Water’.
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