Russian Home Search E-mail Map

Ama: Chuvash woman’s talisman

(World of one object)

An opening of temporary exhibition of “World of one item” series took place on December 2, 2005 at 15:00 in the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS. Exhibition is organized in honor of 85 years of Chuvash Republic supported by St. Petersburg Chuvash Society. The museum offers to visitors Chuvash breast jewellery.

Chuvash, one of Middle Volga peoples, are considered to be the successors of ancient cultures – Turkic, Finno-Ugric, Iranian. It is a common feeling that Chuvash were the core of a strong medieval state Volga Bulgaria.

In 1999 the museum has purchased from N.P. Parfyonov a piece of woman jewellery ama kept in the family since XIX century. Silver coins are sewed with an overlap to cloth base. Such “scaly” jewellery bears surprising resemblance of warrior’s armor. Silver and rich embroidery were to protect girls and women, their female origin, from evil spirits, curses and spells. This jewellery was inherited. They were renewed by changing lost coins to new ones. 192 silver coins of 1762-1938 with images of Peter III, Paul I, Catherine II, Elisabeth, Nikolay II and some Spanish and Polish coins remained.

The name of the jewellery “ama” goes back to the name of goddess of fertility. This costume element is important for culture of festivals in Alikovsky, Morgaushsky, Krasnochetaysky, Vurnarsky and Yadrinsky districts of Chuvashia. They are still worn on family festivities, marriages and  village holidays.

These days the richest collections of MAE (Kunstkamera) RAS of European Russia people’s culture originating from XVII century are enriched mostly with help of our contemporaries.