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Blackamoor (Jewelry)

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"Morettos" in Italian, these figures usually appear in antique Venetian (though nowadays they can be made anywhere) jewelry as earrings, bracelets, cuff links, and brooches. Some contemporary craftsmen continue to make individual pieces, but it is rare because of the modern issues of depicting Black people as "exotic" and decorative. The blackamoor is depicted with a head covering, usually a Turban, and covered in rich jewels and gold leaf. It's always a man, and usually has white racial features, but enamelled, carved from ebony or painted black to contrast with the bright colors of the embellishments. Depictions are only of the head, or head and shoulders, facing the viewer in a symmetrical pose.

In decoration the full body is depicted, either to hold trays as virtual servants or bronze sconces to hold candles or light fixtures. Often these blackamoors are in acrobatic positions that would be impossible to hold for any extended length of time for a real person. Fred Wilson, a well known sculptor, displayed an installation at the 2003 Venice Biennale that incorporated blackamoors.*

The term has Phoenician and Greek origins; see Moors, Maure.

Notable Examples

  • The most valuable blackamoors are covered in diamonds and rubies and created by Giulio Nardi.

Continued...


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This page was last updated on: Fri Mar 9 06:35:23 2007

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