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Tillya Tepe Gold Ornaments and Accessories (lesson and activities)

Sheath Example

Sheath Example

Pendant Example

Pendant Example

Engraved and Assembled Metalwork Example

Engraved and Assembled Metalwork Example

Sheath Example
Pendant Example
Engraved and Assembled Metalwork Example
Objective: 

Students examine how artifacts found at Tillya Tepe reflect artistic and cultural exchange along the Silk Road. Students will learn how a nomadic group in Central Asia incorporated motifs from the eastern Mediterranean to China with their own to create items with composite styles and function. They will learn how many of the objects were made with gold, engraved with patterns, modeled into geometric shapes and mythical creatures—composite animals and fish forms, and embellished with semi-precious stones. Students will combine the cultural and artistic symbols of ancient Afghanistan to create their own ornament or accessory.

Duration: 
Two 45 minute sessions
Keyword Results: 

Overview:
Afghanistan was a nucleus of cultural, artistic, and economic activity. The exchange of goods and ideas along the Silk Road is revealed in archaeological artifacts found in this Central Asian country. The artifacts from the archaeological site of Tillya Tepe belonging to nomads included an array of body ornaments, accessories, and items for ritual use.

These objects show a combination of subject matter, styles, and design elements inspired by diverse cultural and regional influences. This is exemplified in a bronze knife sheath from Tillya Tepe, Tomb 4, that draws upon Chinese, Indian, Greek, West Asian, and Central Asian sources. This display of multicultural embellishments is a dazzling example of the extraordinary artistic a cultural heritage of Afghanistan.

Materials and Preparation:
Sheath Pattern, Pendant Pattern, Motifs and Patterns of Tillya Tepe, Materials Supply List, Afghanistan Image Descriptions

Procedure:

  1. Show and discuss images of the Tillya Tepe artifacts in Afghanistan Image Descriptions
  2. Ask students to consider:
    • Who would wear this object? (A princess or male warrior?)
    • What kind of life did the wearer have? Does it tell you if the person was sedentary or nomadic?
    • How might the object be worn or used? (To sheath a knife, buckle a boot, wear as a pendant, or ornament the body and/or clothing?)

Activity I: Making the Sheath
Caution when handling cut metal. Edges and points will be sharp.

Part I: 

  1. Place carbon paper on cardboard. On top of this, place the pattern of the sheath or pendant and secure in place with tape.
  2. Trace the shape (not the dashed margin lines) with a pencil, pressing firmly to transfer the design to the cardboard.
  3. Remove the pattern and carbon paper from the cardboard.
  4. Cut out cardboard shape with scissors.
  5. Position pattern onto metal foil and secure with tape.
  6. Trace the shape and dashed margin lines onto the metal foil with a pencil; press firmly.
  7. Remove the pattern and cut the shape out from the metal foil with scissors along the margin line.
  8. Cut dart lines around the curves from the metal foil edge to the solid outline of the shape.
  9. Position the cardboard shape centered on the metal foil shape.
  10. Fold the metal foil over the edges of the cardboard shape and press edges and flaps firmly to the cardboard.

Part II: Engraving Designs

  1. Trace the cardboard shape onto blank white paper for design embellishments.
  2. Design your embellishments on the white paper outline creating your own composite mystical creatures and patterns using the motifs found on objects from Tillya Tepe.
  3. Position paper onto metal foil and secure with tape. Using a wood stylus, engrave your design into the meal foil, and then remove the paper.
  4. To add patina, paint the surface of the metal foil with acrylic paint and wipe excess off with a soft rag or paper towel, leaving paint in the recesses.
  5. To complete, embellish with stones by pasting them to the metal foil.

Activity II: Making a Pendant
Caution when handling cut metal. Edges and points will be sharp.

  1. Position shape patterns onto metal foil and secure with tape. (Trace the cardboard shape onto blank white paper for design embellishments.)
  2. Trace the shapes onto the metal foil with a pencil; press firmly.
  3. Remove the patterns and cut the shapes out with scissors.
  4. Punch and cut out other small dangling geometric shapes from the excess metal foil to add to the composition of the pendant.
  5. Position the shapes into a pleasing arrangement that will be connected with wire links.
  6. Punch 1/8” holes in the metal pieces where they will connect to each other.
  7. Using 2–3” lengths of gold wire, thread one end of the wire through each of the holes in the metal foil shapes and wrap the wire around itself, making a secure loop. Fold over the other end of the wire and wrap around itself to make another loop.
  8. To connect the shaped pieces, thread a third segment of wire through one loop and wrap. Then, thread the other end of the wire through the loop of the other shape and wrap.
  9. Connect all the shapes with wire links.
  10. Glue stones to embellish the metal pieces.

Activity III: Combining Engraving and Metalwork
Caution when handling cut metal. Edges and points will be sharp.

  1. Design a shape of out of cardboard.
  2. Trace the cardboard shape onto a sheet of metal foil.
  3. Draw a 1/2” margin around the metal foil shape.
  4. Cut out shape along the margin line with scissors.
  5. Snip darts (“V” shaped cuts) into the metal foil around all curved edges.
  6. Position the cardboard shape centered on the metal foil shape.
  7. Fold the metal foil over the edges of the cardboard shape and press edges and flap firmly to the cardboard.
  8. Engrave your design onto the metal foil shape and punch hold where you want to add dangling metal foil shapes.
  9. Cut out metal shapes, punch out holes, and connect with wire links.
  10. Attach the dangling pieces to the engraved cardboard shape.
  11. Paint with acrylic paint and wipe off excess with a paper towel to add patina.
  12. To complete, glue gemstones in place.

This lesson was created by Lucy Arai, Artist and Museum Education Consultantin conjunction with the exhibition, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul.

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