"Aigrettes (Sorguç) were used both by the Sultan and notable women of the Harem. It was the symbol of power because of its shape and appearance. It is known that Sultans gave the valuable aigrettes as presents or as awards to certain individuals. Jewelled aigrettes also enhanced the heads of horses during equestrian ceremonies. They attracted attention with their simple floral or drop designs and reflected the brightness of the precious gems on them. In later periods, the aigrettes were huge. In portraits the sultans usually wore one aigrette but sometimes they wore three. Women wore more than one aigrette but sometimes they put one on their forehead and another on the back of their head." (Ülgen)
There are a number of Sorguç extant pieces as well as Kundan style Gold Inlayed Jade jewelry available for viewing at a number of museums including the following:
- Carved Jade
- Shell Gold
- Obtaining Kundan gold leaf was impossible due to current pandemic supply chain and shipping constraints.
- I wanted to use gold Leaf in the Kundan style (Keene et al. 18) but the types of gold leaf available at this time were sticking to the entire stone instead of the gesso.
- Gemstones- Rubies and an Emerald
- Barge Cement
- Due to the inability to use the Kundan technique shown on the carnation shaped gold jeweled crest shown in The Art of Jewelry in the Ottoman Court I needed a way to adhere the gemstones and Aigrette to the jade. I used barge cement to ensure a bond that will endure.
- Jeweler's glue
- Pre-fabricated Aigrette (feather holder)
- I wanted to make one of my own, but our metal shop was in the process of being unpacked and I didn't have access to any of our tools or supplies
- Gold chain
- Gold jump rings
- Gold hooks
I wanted to create a Sorguç for myself utilizing period materials as close to the originals in design as possible while still being a unique piece.
A small pendant of jade carved in a period floral motif makes up the base of the piece. I adhered a piece of wool to the back as a base for the pin, feathers and chains to be stitched to. I wanted to use gold Leaf in the Kundan style (Keene et al. 18) but the types of gold leaf available at this time were sticking to the entire stone instead of the gesso. Obtaining Kundan gold leaf was impossible due to current pandemic supply chain and shipping constraints. Therefore, I utilized shell gold to simulate the look of the technique with shell gold I had on hand.
After determining that I would not be able to use Kundan Gold to effectively bezel set the gemstones in place, I decided that barge cement would have to do in place of that medium. Not long after the cement had set, I was cleaning the piece and dropped it from a height of almost 5' onto cement. A leading tenet in the Oriental faith is that perfection is for the gods, that Allah only is perfect. Old rug weavers would deliberately weave in a mistake, because perfection is reserved for the gods, not man. I personally believe that the sign of an artisan's skill is in how they handle mistakes. This was a big one, as the gemstones all came loose and spread across the floor while the jade split straight down the middle. I utilized jeweler's glue to put the jade back together and re-adhered the gemstones.
I then worked on the pre-fabricated aigrette. It was hammered to shape to ensure the bottom would more easily slide into fabric. I filed the back of the aigrette and punched/filed two holes at the top in order to stitch the aigrette to the wool backing of the jade.
I added a variety of feathers to the wool backing of the jade using barge cement then covered everything with another piece of wool. I took this opportunity to stitch a modern pin back to the wool backing of the jade to ensure it wasn't going anywhere. (This was a modern, personal choice due to the expense of the materials. I REALLY don't want this thing falling off my head!)
I then used gold chain, jump rings and hooks to create the hooked chains found in many extant pieces for attaching it to a turban. These are simply strung onto the bar of the pin with jump rings so that I can easily remove the chains for different styles of wear.
In the future, I would very much like to create a Sorguç or another piece of Ottoman Turkish jewelry using the Kundan technique. When the world's supply and shipping chain comes back to some semblance of normalcy, I look forward to trying my hand at it. I would also prefer to make my own aigrette or straight metal stem once our metal shop is set up with all of the various tools and supplies we have at hand.
“THE ART OF JEWELRY IN THE OTTOMAN COURT.” Turkish Cultural Foundation, www.turkishculture.org/applied-arts/jewelry/the-art-of-149.htm.
“Chapter 1 Varieties in Stone Settings & Chapter 2 Inlaid Hardstones.” Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals, by Manuel Keene and Salam Kaoukji, Thames & Hudson, 2001, pp. 18–43.
Truong, Alain. “A Fine Ottoman Gold-Inlaid Jade Plaque, Turkey, 16th Century.” Eloge De L'Art Par Alain Truong, Eloge De L'Art Par Alain Truong, 22 Mar. 2009, elogedelart.canalblog.com/archives/2009/03/22/13088843.html.
Özay, Alev. “Aigrette Holders.” Edited by Mandi Gomez. Translated by Barry Wood and İnci Türkoğlu, Discover Islamic Art - Virtual Museum With No Frontiers, islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object%3BISL%3Btr%3B+Mus01%3B28%3Ben&chttp%3A%2F%2Fislamicart.museumwnf.org%2Fdatabase_item.php%3F+id=object%3BISL%3Btr%3BMus01%3B28%3Ben&cp.
Ülgen, Aygün. “Ottoman Jewelry.” Yeni Turkiye, vol. 11, 1999, pp. 235–250., doi:10.24058/tki.14.