Exhibition „Money as Jewellery”
The exhibition “Money as Jewellery” shows the diversity in tradition, customs, values and aesthetic criteria in the small area of Montenegro. Jewellery, by itself, was always an ornament women were proud of and it represented their religious affiliation, marital status, and also pointed to her social status. Money as an ornament on jewellery was one of the main indicators of a woman’s status.
Money was hanged on or imbedded into ornaments for head, neck and breast, waist, and hands. Depending on the financial condition of the family for which the jewellery was made, the ornamental coins were predominantly of silver, nickel or copper, and rarely of gold. The most luxurious were breast ornaments (đerdani) that sometimes counted dozens of various coins, being prominent for their detailed filigree work, luxurious rosettes, colourful decorative glass, and sometimes semi-precious stones. However, the exhibited jewellery was not exclusively worn for representative purposes, but it also served as some kind of magical protection in certain religious and ethnic groups. Thus, it was believed that a clattering of coins on a woman’s head disk (tepeluk) protected her from „evil eyes”, and the decorative box hanging on the chain often contained a written message or a prayer from the Qur’an a woman would wear on any occasion.
The exhibition “Money as Jewellery” gives visitors an opportunity to see aesthetically attractive pieces of jewellery, from a historical point of view, to learn the situation of Montenegro in the past through the prism of money. How money lost its primary purpose of being the means of payment and evolved into a new dimension. Owing to this, even without knowing the monetary history of our country, one may learn about the influence of the great powers on this region and how they were so entrenched that their customs became a part of our culture, customs, and overall identity.
The exhibited jewellery dating back primarily from the 19th and early 20th centuries contains Austrian, French, Russian, and Serbian coins, but predominantly Turkish coins.