This is an example of the type of anklets gifted to babies and children up to about 6 years old. The anklets symbolise goodluck and well wishes for the baby to grow up fit and healthy. These particular anklets have bells on, I am unsure whether this is a standard feature of this type of jewellery and whether the gift itself would be one anklet ortwo, as two anklets are shown in the picture. There will be more updates on this subject.
The Dragonboat Festival, also known as Duanwu, is celebrated in China. It is held on the fifth day of the fifth month every year, it last fell on 6th June, 2011.The tradition originated from the suicide of the famous Chinese poet Qu in a river following the Qin dynasty conquering the state of Chu where Qu was a minister. In this age-old, annual tradition, Chinese people hold dragon boat races, eat rice dumplings covered in bamboo leaves and make silk pouches or bracelets from silk thread in the run up to the celebration. The dragon boats represent the villigers searching for Qu’s body in the river. Rice dumplings are traditional because the villigers made these dumplings to feed the fish to preserve Qu’s body. The festivals commemorates the villigers in their boats in the search for Qu’s body.
The bracelets worn at this time are made up of different coloured threads; usually black, white, red, yellow and green. The bracelets are worn until the next rain following the festival when they are then cut and thrown into a river. This is thought that this is done to resemble a dragon in the water. (information taken from http://www.lostlaowai.com )
In 2007, three traditional holidays were brought back on to the official national holiday calandar: Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
I first heard about ‘Escapulario’ from a Chilean classmate. After some research I believe the English is ‘Devotional Scapular’, both names deriving from the latin word ‘scapula’ as it is worn over the shoulders. Devotional Scapulas are often worn by Spanish/South American people with strong catholic beliefs. I am still researching into the extent of the jewellery in other countries with large catholic communities. As shown in the image below, the jewellery consists of two pendants, typically rectangles, which are worn with the chain or cord on the shoulders with the two pendants balancing each other; one hangs on the chest and one hangs on the back. This type of necklace can be worn to show an association or membership to a particular order or to protect against the ‘eternal sentence’, for example, if you are wearing an escapulario and are involved in an accident the belief is that it will protect you from evil and ensure you are safe. This could also be interpreted as ensuring a safe passage to a heavenly afterlife. In the Spanish Cival War, many soldiers used to wear scapulas like an amulet for protection, to ensure the safety of their souls.
Traditionally, scapulars are made from fabric as part of the habit worn in Roman Catholic religious organisations, worn by both male and female devotees, such as the Mercedarios; a particular Catholic order. Religious orders are organisations or institutions recognised by the church. Their members wish to achieve the same dedication to God, and obey the rules of the founder of the order of the church.
There are eighteen different types approved by the church, scapulars can be found in a number of colours; black, white, red, blue and brown. The different colours can symbolise different meanings or represent different saints. For example white can sybolise St. Joseph, or there ia a black scapular of the help of the sick. The Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary are also popular themes. The example below shows the symbol for the escapulars of the Benedictine order:
Although scapulars are traditionally made from fabric and worn by people who had pledged all their vows to the church, many people began wearing smaller scapulars to show their association with the church. The scapulars worn by the general population on a daily basis tended to be made from gold or silver and might also be round instead of rectangular (their rectangular fabric ones would be hung on the wall next to a crucifix). Some people did wear fabric scapulars as fashionable objects, and now bracelets with Saints’ portraits strung together all the way around have become popular with Catholic teenagers.
I am curious whether the afore mentioned medals in my French jewellery post are actually a type of scapular. More information to follow.
I heard about Les Compagnons du Tour de France before I learned that this is a practice understood throughout Europe. Les Compagnons du Tour de France is an association of craftsmen, a tradition of travelling apprentices to learn a love of craft ranging from upholsterers to carpenters. There are over 30 000 compagnons today. Apprentices cannot leave their Master’s without permission, except for masons who can move site to site freely. They are the only exception to the rule and wear a gold earring as a sign of their social status and freedom.
Hallmark system – France has one of the most complex systems for hallmarking in the world. This is because French hallmarks have never involved numbers. Symbols of animals, insects and birds have been used to indicate fineness, place of manufacture, imports and exports. The eagle head symbolises 18carat gold. Assayed French gold is never lower than 18ct. Marks can also be found in a number of places on an item of jewellery; clasps, side edges, pin stems can be used as well as the back surface. Before 1962, the boars head symbolised silver from Paris. The crab mark symbolised silver from outside Paris before 1962 and since then has been recognised as the national symbol for silver.
Wedding bands in France often have the names of the married couple or the dates of the wedding on the inside of the band.
Catholic Medals, a common gift for baptisms, often have the date of baptism includes on the medal.
USA – Assay offices in the US are mainly used for coinage mints. There is no mention of any standards for jewellery. A friend, Katrina, informed me that her rings, purchased in the US, have a 14k stamped on the inside of the band.
Ireland – The Irish Assay Office used to be a part of, and is still based on the UK Assay principles and systems.
Netherlands – the Dutch Assay Office hallmarks all jewellery produced in the Netherlands or any that has been imported for the Dutch market. Like the UK, recognised precious metals are platinum, gold, silver and palladium.
Switzerland – In the Swiss assay Office only precious metal watch cases must be hallmarked. Hallmarks for precious metal jewellery and cutlery are optional. Again, platinum, gold, silver and palladium are recognised precious metals.
Cyprus – Only has one Assay Office in Aradippou; medium sized town in Cyprus. There are three compulsory symbols in Cyprus for hallmarking all jewellery. The first is the manufacturer’s mark which is usually the maker’s initials inside a shield. The second is the fineness mark to indicate the purity of the metal. (In parts per thousand, gold is classed 375,585, 750 0r 916, silver is either 800,830 or 925.. The third mark is the official mark. Until December 2001 the mark for gold was the head of Aphrodite, since January 2002 this has been a ship. Silver is marked with a fish symbol.