This gold pendant, set with rubies and turquoise, relates to a group of precious bejeweled objects made for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Raised rosettes decorate the gold surface of the panels, creating truncated forms with turquoises, rubies and hardstones set into their apexes. A similar technique, though on slightly grander scale, is used on a number of pieces now in the Topkapi Saray Museum. These include a wonderful jeweled and gold-inlaid steel ceremonial helmet and a gold canteen (matara) (inv.2/1187 and 2/3825, both published in Esin Atil, The Age of Süleyman the Magnificent, exhibition catalogue, Washington D.C., 1987, pp.123 and 149). They are dated to the mid and second half of the 16th century respectively. Both examples share with ours not only the rosette settings of the precious stones, but also the lightly pounced ground onto which they are set. A mace, attributed to the 17th century, and also inset with turquoise and rubies, was recently published (Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest, inv.no.E 60.6, Nurhan Atasoy and Lâle Uluç, Impressions of Ottoman Culture in Europe: 1453-1699, Istanbul, 2012, no.169, p.232). In the quality of the inset stones, our pendant relates more closely to the mace than the helmet and matara, suggesting a 17th century date.
The gold floral scrolls on the face of the pendant also closely resemble those on a 16th century turban ornament (sorguç) in the Mausoleum of Ibrahim Pasha (d. 1536) (Esin Atil, The Age of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, exhibition catalogue, Washington, 1987, no.79, p.144). The surface of both are decorated with a complicated interlace of saz motifs, leafy scrolls, hatayis, peonies and blossoms. The decorative planes of both have raised outlines, and ring matting is applied to the grounds.
The animals nielloed on to the back of the pendant recall those on a series of silver and silver gilt vessels produced in the Ottoman Balkans. The two birds at the centre which flank a cypress tree, and the addorsed mammals with turned heads, find comparison with those on a silver-gilt tankard from the period of Murad III (1574-95) or Murad IV (1623-40), sold in these Rooms, 6 October 2009, lot 176 (also published by Nurhan Atsoy and Julian Raby, Iznik, London, 1989, fig.615, p.276). The animals on our pendant however are livelier - escaping the confines of their borders and at times in contorted positions, such as the bird at the top of the pendant. The niello on the back of the panel relates to that found on two small Qur'an boxes, which were attached to flagpoles (inv.no-53-47, Hilmi Aydin, The Sacred Trusts, Istanbul, 2011, p.86).