- Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba
Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba
Regional Yemeni Jewelry
Photographs by Robert K. Liu
The first illustrated study of ethnic silver jewelry in Yemen, by an expert researcher and collector, new in paperback
Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba documents a disappearing artistic and cultural tradition with over three hundred photographs showing individual pieces, rare images of women wearing their jewelry with traditional dress, and the various regions in Yemen where the author did her field research. Ransom’s descriptions of the people she met and befriended, and her exploration of the significance of a woman’s handmade jewelry with its attributes of power, protection, beauty, and personal identity, will appeal to ethnic jewelry fans, ethnographers, jewelry designers, and art historians.
Amulet cases, hair ornaments, bridal headdresses, earrings, necklaces, ankle and wrist bracelets are all beautifully photographed in intricate detail, interspersed with the author’s own photographs of the women who shared their stories and their hospitality with her. A chapter on the history of silversmithing in Yemen tells the surprising story of the famed Jewish Yemeni silversmiths, many of whom left Yemen in the late 1940s. This is the first in-depth study of Yemeni silver, uniquely illustrated with photographs of a world that is transforming before our eyes, and animated with the portraits of a precious legacy.
1. The Allure of Silver Jewelry
2. The Timeliness of This Study
3. Sources of Silver: The Maria Theresa Thaler
4. Regional Styles of Yemeni Jewelry and Costumes
5. The Northern Mountains: Sanaa, Saada, Amran, Haraz, Mahwit, Jabal Milhan, and Hajja
6. Marib and the Jawf
8. Mountains near the Red Sea: Bur‘a, Rayma, and Wasab
9. The Southern Mountains: Taiz, Hugariya, and Ibb
10. The Northern Tihama Coastal Plain: Adhra’, Hawatim al-Tur, al-Dhahiyy, and Zaydiya
11. The Southern Tihama Coastal Plain: Bayt al-Faqih, Mawza, and Zabid
12. Hadramaut: Sayyun
13. Wadi Amid
14. Wadi Daw‘an
15. Wadi Idim
16. Southern Hadramaut: Shihr, the Southern Coast, and Socotra
18. Shabwa: Habban and Ataq
19. Dali‘, Yafi‘, and Lahij
Marjorie Ransom is a Middle East specialist who has lived and worked throughout the Arab world, where she began researching and collecting traditional silver jewelry, particularly from Yemen. Her renowned collection of Middle Eastern jewelry has been exhibited at American museums. She lives in Washington, DC.
Robert K. Liu is photographer and editor at Ornament Magazine.
Abdulkarim Al-Eryani (1934–2015) was the prime minister of Yemen from 1980 to 1983 and again from 1998 to 2001, and one-time political advisor to the President of Yemen.
Najwa Adra is a cultural anthropologist with over thirty years of experience in international development and field research in Yemen.
"Exquisite traditional jewellery. . . . pleated silver necklaces and bangles vividly tell the story of the country’s artistry and design."—Vanity Fair
"Beautifully recorded . . . beautiful photographs . . . a virtually immersive experience."—Ethnic Jewels Magazine
"This beautiful book is a fitting tribute to the rich culture of Yemen, and its people's appreciation of fine craftsmanship. Marjorie Ransom spent three decades collecting Yemeni jewelry, and many months traveling to the remotest regions of Yemen to interview the women who wore it and the silversmiths who made it. The result is an indispensable reference work for specialists, and an enjoyable feast for all who love the region and its culture."—Shelagh Weir, former curator for the Middle East at the British Museum
"Marjorie Ransom's Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba is a superb work, carefully researched and documented. We in Yemen will always be grateful to Marjorie for preserving for us the real character of Yemeni jewelry, keeping the past alive in the present in this true jewel of a book."—Dr. Yusuf Mohammed Abdullah, professor of Archaeology and Epigraphy, University of Sanaa, Yemen
"Here is a long-awaited treasure trove. Marjorie Ransom's love of the country, her knowledge of its highways and byways, and her anecdotes about those she meets in her journeyings add a rare and warm dimension to our understanding of this beautiful country and its silver."—Sarah Searight, author of Yemen: Land and People
"This inspiring book is the work of a passionate collector, a dedicated researcher, and a patient, sensitive interviewer. Working against difficult odds, Marjorie Ransom found the last knowledgeable sources of information and reveals to the reader not only the story of silver jewelry, but the multicolored mosaic of an elaborate but quickly changing culture."—Shahira Mehrez, researcher, collector, and promoter of traditional Egyptian crafts
"Rarely is a research book considered an interesting read outside its particular academic circle. But while author Marjorie Ransom repeatedly refers to Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba as a "study" this book is much more than that. In her effort to document the dying art of Yemeni jewelry making, she created a tome that is part travel story, part coffee table book and all tribute to the author's passion for a country she has grown to love." —Egypt Today
"With more than 300 color plates, this lavishly illustrated tome offers a wonderful introduction to Yemeni crafts, touching on embroidery as well as the silversmithing. Marjorie Ransom includes stunning examples (all expertly shot by Robert K. Liu) of a variety of hairpieces, headdresses, necklaces (lazem), earrings, bracelets, belts, swords (jambiya), anklets, and amulets. Luckily for readers, she proves an enthusiastic guide with a very readable and engaging style."—Al Jadid Magazine
"As a scholarly document, the book is a useful and timely tool for students of cultures and for people researching their own collections. It will also be of value to dealers needing to make appraisals. . . . As a cultural interpreter and documenter of a dying art form [Marjorie Ransom] has presented a gift to scholars, to fellow collectors and to the society of Yemen itself."—HALI: The International Magazine of Antique Carpet and Textile Art
"This book glows with the author's love and respect for the country and people of Yemen, and it does them proud. Everyone who shares her fascination with Yemeni culture will want a copy. It will also be an indispensable reference for collectors and museums."—The Middle East in London
"This is a study that could not have been delayed another decade. The book has more than 300 beautiful illustrations, some drawn from the author's extensive collection, and much interesting sociological information on the roles of the different pieces."—AramcoWorld
"Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, Silver Treasures from the Land of Sheba: Regional Yemeni Jewelry will prove an elegant, informative, and exceptional addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections."—Midwest Book Review
Virtual Book Talk
Watch the virtual book discussion with author Marjorie Ransom and in conversation with Nashwa Alsharki, a Yemeni jewelry enthusiast.
Date: 7 February 2024 – Time: 7pm Cairo | 12pm New York | 5pm UK