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    Dowager Dreams

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    A magificent pair of Catalan (Iberian) ear pendants, les arracades d'arengada,or herring earrings, circa 1800-1830. The elongated forms evoke the shape of a fish. The central element is thought to be a stylized butterfly. These are entirely handmade in gold and set throughout with foiled hessonite garnets in bright brownish orange shades, within rub-over collet settings. 

    The longest examples on record measure approximately 14 centimeters and these were frequently worn with ribbons threaded through to offset some of the weight and for added comfort. 

    Catalonia has traditionally contributed to the Spanish Crown's trade, purse and navy in exchange for autonomy. Since the 10th century, Catalonia has maintained its own language, culture and institutions. In 1808, French troops invaded and occupied Spain(1808-1814 Guerra de la Independencia España). Napoleon Bonaparte deposed the sitting Spanish king, Charles IV of Spain (House of Bourbon) and handed the throne to his own brother, Joseph Bonaparte. Catalonia and the rest of Spain rose in rebellion. 

    The rather distinctive design of Catalan jewelry is informed by Catalonia's history, one rooted in regional autonomy and independence. The rest of Iberia was influenced by 'international' fashion and design in the Rococo taste (i.e. stylized bows & ribbons). The rest of Iberia was influenced by 'international' fashion and design in the Rococo taste (stylized bows and ribbons). These ear pendants have a more distinctive regional look with fewer indications of outside influence. 

    Hand-tooled with incised fleur-de-lis all around, they evoke the House of Bourbon (the arms of Bourbon-Anjou, the ruling House of Spain are represented by three fleur-de-lis). These earrings were likely manufactured during the decades of war with France, and the prominent fleur-de-lys motifs may have represented the popular pro-Bourbon cause. 

    Moreover, these are unique because the finial and the terminal both feature acorns (a total of eight), a symbol of freedom and all things Basque. The author has not come across another pair featuring acorn symbolism. 


    Reference: 

    Earrings from Antiquity to the Presentby Daniella Mascetti & Amanda Triossi.


    Weight: 37.50 grams; each earring weighs approximately 19 grams.

    Length: 5.375 inches or approximately 13.50 cms.


    Condition: There are three small hessonite garnets missing from the ear pendants. Some of the garnets show some chips and fractures. The fittings are original (rare) and there is a slight modification to the reverse of one earring(please refer to photographs for more information). We have not polished the earrings in order to preserve the antique patina. The overall condition of the ear pendants is commensurate with the age of the earrings. 

     

    We would be happy to replace the missing garnets at the request of the buyer. 

     

    I'm grateful to the work of Marion Yang of Heart of Hearts Jewels for her thorough research on 'Arracades d'arengada', or herring earrings.