In the style of a 'Satlada' necklace designed as a cascade of nine pearl strands each suspending a fringe of pearl, enamel and white gem-set plaques to the triangular-shaped gem-set clasp, circa 1880, 50.0 cm long, 38.0 cm drop
Accompanied by report No. 0128010 dated 03 March 2008 from the Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain (Gem-A) stating that extensive samples are natural pearls with one nucleated cultured pearl
Sale room notice
Christie's has been requested to inform the buyer of this lot that the Institut du monde arabe will be holding an exhibition devoted to Umm Kulthum in Paris from 16 June to 2 November 2008 and they would very much like the necklace to be loaned for this important exhibition

Lot Essay

The lot will include an original black and white photography of Umm Kulthum in concert and another with His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Umm Kulthum (1904-1975) was unquestionably the greatest Arab singer of the 20th century. Known as 'The Shining Star of the Middle East' (Kawkab El Sharq), her importance in the Arab countries was so great that she was received with the same ceremony as heads of state.

Born in Egypt to a humble family of singers, her remarkable voice was known all over Egypt by the time she was 5 years old. However, it was not until she was 19 that she left her village moving to Cairo to pursue her career.

The famous poet Ahmad Rami wrote 137 songs for her and renowned lute virtuoso Mahamed El Asabgi was also highly influential in her formative years.

By 1948 her fame came to the attention of Gamel Abdel Nasser, who was to become president of Egypt. Nasser's speeches and other government messages were frequently broadcast immediately after her monthly concerts, which took place on the first Thursday of every month and were listened to avidly by the masses. Her concerts were unique in the way that a single song could last an hour or two with much of it impromptu, repeating lines over and over again but varying the style of singing every time, so that no two lines were the same. In this way she interacted in a hugely personal way with her audience bringing them to an almost hypnotic state.

Umm Kulthum was relentless in her charitable work and was the spokeswoman for various good causes. She gave away most of her wealth during her lifetime and financially supported around 200 peasant families.

After the Egyptian defeat in the 1967 Arab/Israel war, she toured throughout the Arab world giving concerts and donating the proceeds to the Egyptian Government. These concerts were highly publicized and took on the character of state visits. She was entertained by heads of state and in her many interviews she repeated her views regarding the importance of indigenous Arab culture. More than a musician she became the voice and face of Egypt.

Umm Kulthum died in 1975. Her funeral was led by the presidential court and followed by several million of her followers. In her honour the Egyptian government opened the Kawkab al-Sharq Museum (Star of the East) dedicated to the life and work of Umm Kulthum.

Described as 'The Incomparable Voice' by Maria Callas and 'The Lady' by Charles De Gaulle, over 30 years after her death her CDs still sell 300,000 copies or more in Egypt every year.

This magnificent nine-row pearl necklace was gifted to Umm Kulthum by His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late ruler of the UAE in the early 1970's. It is being offered for sale by descendents of the famous singer who remember how she used to treat the necklace with absolute care as it was one of her most treasured jewels

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