A Greek Gold Pomegranate and Carnelian Bead Necklace, Hellenistic Period, ca. 2nd - 1st century BCE
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Medium: Gold, Carnelian
Dimensions: Length: 18 inches (45.7 cm)
The central design element of this lovely necklace is seven pairs of small tubular beads with suspended pomegranate drops and tiny gold ball granulation, made of high karat sheet gold. Interspersed between the pomegranate beads are twenty-two small spherical beads and fourteen cylinder carnelian beads, restrung with a modern hook clasp of 18K gold.
Throughout history, the pomegranate has been a symbol of humanity’s central beliefs and ideals, namely, life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, and abundance. In Ancient Greek mythology, pomegranates were often offered to the goddess Demeter in prayer for fertile land. In Judaism, pomegranates were the fruits brought to Moses to demonstrate the fertility of the promised land, and King Solomon is said to have designed his coronet based on the fruit’s serrated crown-like calyx.
In Christianity, the pomegranate symbology appears on vestments or liturgical hangings and is a common emblem used in religious paintings, including those by Botticelli and da Vinci, where it is usually seen in the hands of the Virgin Mary or the infant Jesus. In Islam, the Qur’an mentions that pomegranates grow in the gardens of Paradise, and in Hinduism, Persian and Chinese culture, the pomegranate is also considered a symbol of fertility and procreation, associated with earth goddesses. Today, it is customary for Greeks to adorn the table with pomegranates (known as ‘polysporia’ meaning ‘many-seeded’) and on New Year’s Day break a pomegranate on the ground.
On moving into a new home, house guests traditionally bring pomegranates as a symbol of abundance, fertility, and good luck for the new owner. Designed to be worn, this is a piece that will be treasured for another 2000 years.
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall. Restrung for wearing with modern 18K gold clasp.
Provenance: Ex. Sumer Gallery, (Henry Anavian) NYC., acquired 1970s-1980s and then by descent to family.