Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The object of the day: Russian Blackamoor cane

An exquisite Blackamoor cane by Faberge's primary competitor, the noted F. Kochli of St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Made entirely of carved obsidian, the head is adorned with striking diamond eyes and impressive carvings. The ebonized cane features a distinctive gold band enamel in the form of a shirt and tie.

Blackamoors, often referred to as Moretto or Moor's head, represent the historic emblem of Venice, dating from the medieval European period, when Saracen pirates plagued the coast of Dalmatia. For centuries the Moors played a significant role in the disorder and upheaval of Venetian power. First believed to have talismanic purposes, golden earrings featuring Moor heads were made en vogue during the Hellenistic period. In later years, during the Turkish invasions, the people of the coastal regions continued to wear Blackamoor jewelry as they were believed to bring good luck and protection. With constant attacks being made upon the seaport and the invasion of Moorish rulers, Venetian soldiers donned jewelry in the shape of Blackamoor heads as a symbol of courage and strength against the onslaught of Moorish troops. As dominion in Venice united, the meaning behind Blackamoor jewelry was lost, giving its place to an array of objects, with different representations, most admired by families of considerable stature and nobility.

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