Tridacna shell

Tridacna shellTridacna shell

Originally, the Tridacna shell (Tridacna squamosa) hails from the Persian Gulf. In the 1stmillenniumB.C. the beautifully tooled shells were regarded as precious, luxurious dishes, reserved for kings and other well-to-do persons. The shells were traded far and wide, as far as South Europe.

The decoration

The natural shape of the shell on view in the NMA has been cleverly refashioned to form a bird with a human head and spread wings - a concept of a brilliant simplicity. Along the rim there are pictures of sphinxes and arbores vitae. Originally, the decoration scratched into the shell was painted.

A very rare shell

Fragments of these refashioned Tridacna shells are often found. Practically complete specimens, like this shell, are extremely rare, however, and can be counted on the fingers of one hand. As stated before, the concept behind this shell is of a marvellous simplicity, whereas it has been elaborated in an extremely detailed and meaningful manner.

Object: Tridacna shell
Dating from: 700 B.C.
Material: Organic, shell
Size: 16,7 x 27,8 cm
Origin: Turkey
Collection: Near East
Code: B 1998/12.3