We’re excited that Areli Gutierrez Guzman Rivas, an artisan from Oaxaca, Mexico, is in the process of creating a group of sterling silver earrings for Modern Talisman! We are hoping to have them sometime in early August.Read More
In this case, pictures are worth a thousand words. . . and worth even more than that is an in-person visit. We look forward to meeting you.
Certain things mean more to us. They become part of our daily rituals and special occasions. They reshape reality. They mark time.
The feeling of that coffee mug in your hand announces a new day. The swing of those earrings hints that tonight may involve dancing. The bright colors of a blanket bring warmth to a cold season
We created Modern Talisman, our small shop in Madison, WI, believing that the marriage of beauty and purpose is constantly being made new, around the world and across time. Well-made objects are endlessly fascinating. Old things take on new meanings. New things endure when they invite your touch and, in turn, touch your soul by summoning moods, memories, moments, stories or dreams
Modern Talisman presents possibilities, nothing more,
nothing less. Look around you. We hope you leave our shop with something of substance.
The magic happens when you make it your own.
"Most global fashions aren’t fads. They arise from centuries of tradition and don’t go out of vogue when the seasons change" — “Striking Photos of Cultural Fashions You Have to See,” National Geographic
As a response to customers who often make comments to the effect of "I think ethnic/tribal is big this year" or the converse, "I think the whole ethnic thing has gone out of fashion"...this article goes some way in pointing out that this not "fashion" in the ephemeral sense. While "traditions" themselves are not static (they are certainly subject to adaptation and migration of people and ideas) these things are largely rooted in culture and time and place. There is little doubt that at times others adopt the parts and pieces of these differing cultures to a greater or lesser extent. But we need to expand our world view here and realize the larger undercurrents of cultural influences as they arise in our own cultural fashions and norms. They are always present to a greater or lesser extent. There is not one design trend without some "non-western" or "other" cultural influence present at any given time, some degree of cultural appropriation (a loaded term and a discussion for another day!), fashion and design are more than ever global in nature. The idea of "purity" has no place in any discussion of culture, whether in fashion or as a root source of xenophobia for that matter.
I recently picked up a couple of books on illustrator and writer Edward Gorey at a local bookshop. The inside cover of one of the books was a black-and-white photograph, a close-up image of Gorey's hands upon a wooden table (see below), wearing a pair of VERY large (African?) rings, one on each pinky. Intrigued, I found numerous references to Gorey's taste and love of jewelry in the texts and began to look for other images of him wearing his chosen adornments. I even found a picture of his jewelry collection, hung from a wall of his home on an old wooden thread bobbin holder. His love of large rings is even more apparent in this picture, and he had a acquired an extensive collection of ethnic and antique pieces. I only wish he had come into my retail store years ago...I would have had much for him to choose from to add to his collection!
"Edward wore jewelry long before it was a common occurrence to see men wearing earrings, finger rings, and neck pendants. African, Tibetan, and Indian jewelry were of particular interest to him. Some of his rings were so heavy and awkward that one had to wonder how he could function with such obstacles...Inspired by the 1961 French film Cleo from 5 to 7, whose heroine hung her necklaces on the wall, Edward dealt with the problem of his ever-growing collection of jewelry by hanging his rings and pendant on wooden racks that had once held spools of thread." -- Kevin McDermott, Elephant House or, The Home of Edward Gorey
"'Gorey's long fingers positively droop under the weight of the brass doughnuts he wears,' said Mary Rourke in the The National Observer in 1976. 'They come from lands of mystery, like Egypt and Tibet. And he wears dozens of African necklaces of beads and shells, tinkling and clinking like odd bells. "I've always dressed this way' says Gorey"'" -- Karen Wilkin, ed., Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey
Ulchi Woman. Ulchsky District, Khabarovsk Krai, Far East, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
For the past 9 years, photographer Alexander Khimushin has been traveling the world, visiting 84 different countries. Three years ago, inspired by the idea of documenting remote cultures that are slowly disappearing due to globalization, he began his The World in Faces project. Seeking out small, ethnic minority groups around the world, Khimushin shoots incredible portraits that both honor and immortalize their culture.
Over the past 6 months, Khimushin immersed himself in the Siberian landscape, traveling 15,000 miles alone behind the wheel of an SUV to track down, and photograph, the indigenous people of this frozen land. Moving from the shores of Lake Baikal to the coast of the Japan Sea, he visited a variety of ethnic minority tribes, many of whose population is down to several dozen people.
Russia recognizes 40 different indigenous peoples living in Siberia, which range from the Evenki, whose population is spread out in different locations thousands of miles apart, to the almost extinct Tazy, whom Khimushin believes to have photographed for the first time ever. Khimushin notes that most official population estimates are off, tending to skew higher than reality. Facing harsh temperatures and dwindling populations, the Australian photographer captures the pride these people take in their unique cultures.
The World in Faces, Siberia is a continuation of photographer Alexander Khimushin's mission to document remote cultures around the world.
Sakha Girl. Sakha Republic, Siberia. Wearing traditional wedding mask. Sakha people are very proud of their unique culture. They live in the coldest area of the world. The absolute world record of -96 Fahrenheit was recorded in Oymyakon. Every winter, for at least 2 months the temperature is consistently below -40 Fahrenheit. The first snow comes in early October, while the last snowfall this year was in June. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Nivkhi Man. Nilokaevsky District, Khabarovsk Krai, Okhotsk Sea shore, Siberia. The Nivkhi language is not related to any language in the world. It is still unknown how Nivkhi people arrived in the Far East, as linguistically they are not related to any other Tungus-Manchurian people inhabiting Siberia along the Amur River. Part of the Nivkhi live in Sakhalin, others where Amur enters the Okhotsk Sea. There are a small amount of Nivkhi people left. Official statistics do not reflect the real situation. Many ‘official' indigenous people have just some ancestry, sometimes quite remote, from the first nation people, it is just better for them to register as a minority, because of Government support benefits. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Evenki Elder. South Yakutia/Amur Oblast border, Siberia. Hunter, local elder, ex-reindeer herder, retired 2 years ago, all his life spent as a nomad living in a tent looking after his numerous reindeer. He says it is very hard to settle and live in the house in the village, because it is too hectic a life and there is ‘pollution' in the village. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Evenki Little Girl. Sakha Republic. Siberia. This is a Yakutian Evenki little girl from Olenek region—one of the coldest and most remote areas of Yakutia. Evenki people living there among Sakha people, some speak only basic Russian. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Tofalar Man. Sayan Mountains, Irkutsk Oblast. Siberia. Very rare people, living isolated in the Syan Mountains. One can only get to them by helicopter, there is no road, only wintertime. They live in 3 villages with no road connecting them. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Even Young Man. Eveno-Bytantaysky District, Yakutia. Siberia. Even is not the same as Evenki! They live in one of the most remote and cold regions of Yakutia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Oroqen Man. Èlúnchūn Zìzhìqí, Inner Mongolia, North-West China. Orochen are Chinese Evenki, related to Russian Evenki, and can understand 70-80% of the language. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Buryat Girl. Buryatia Republic, Siberia. Buryat people have quite different traditional clothing depending of their clan (rod in Russian). Buryat people are ethnic Mongols with very similar language and traditions. They are pround of their culture and, among very few other regions of Russia, practice Buddhism. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Dolgan Girl. Sakha Republic. Siberia. Rare people. Dolgans are the Northernmost Turkic speaking ethnic minority group in the world. A small number live in the very remote area of Northeast Yakutia, and other in the north of Krasnoyaksky Krai, on Taimyrpeninsulaa. There is no one single common theory of how the Dolgan minority group was formed. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Tuvan Mongolian Man. Altai region. North-West Mongolia. While there are a lot of Tuvans living in the Tyva Republic of Russia, across the border from Mongolia, there is a small number of so-called Mongolian Tuvans, living in Mongolia. This man is one of them. His family lives in a yurt and raise and milk yaks of the remote grassy highlands next to a glacier in Mongolian, part of the Altai Mountains. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
These are 40 different indigenous peoples living in Siberia, all with populations under 50,000 and many with just a few dozen remaining.
Uilta Little Girl. North of Sakhalin Island. Siberia. Oroki (old name). They live in two locations of Sakhalin Island, a large island close to Japan. One village of Uilta people is in the northernmost part of the island. I visited both locations. Some elderly Uilta people were born at the time when Sakhalin was part of Japan, and have Japanese names and surnames. Uilta people have almost disappeared. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Sakha Girl. Sakha Republic, Siberia. Sakha people are unique, they speak a language that belongs to Turkic group, yet they are Shamanists, not Muslims. Their culture is related to horses, while Evenki people to reindeer. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Udege Man. Primorsky Krai, Far East, Siberia. Very rare people, living in dense taiga, along the Bikin river—Russian Amazon. Ussuri tigers live in the bush and are often visitors to their village, sometimes killing dogs in their backyards. Until now, most of the Udege peope collect and sell ginseng root for a living, as well as honey. Udege primarily live in two villages that are hundred of miles from each other. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Evenki Mom with Baby. Neryungrinsky District, Sakha Republic, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Semeyskie Woman. Pervomaika, Zaigrayevsky District, Republic of Buryatia, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Tazy Woman. Mikhailovka, Olga Bay, Primorsky Krai, Far East, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Evenki Girl. Republic of Buryatia, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Nanai Girl. Nanaysky District, Khabarovsk Krai. Far East, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Ulchi Young Man. Bulava, Khabarovsk Krai. Far East, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Ainu Young Man. Hokkaido Island, Japan. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Buryat Shaman. Bagdarin, Bauntovsky District, Buryatia Republic, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Chukcha Girl. Sakha Republic, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Ulchi Girl. Bogorodskoe, Khabarovsk Krai. Far East, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
Evenki Reindeer Herder Boy. Timpton river bank, Yakutia/Amur Oblast border, Siberia. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
The Australian photographer traveled to Siberia alone, traveling 15,000 miles by car to visit these indigenous people.
Photographer Alexander Khimushin in Far East Siberia with the Nanai People. © Alexander Khimushin / The World In Faces
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Alexander Khimushin.
In a Time of Stress, Jewelry Becomes Armor
By RACHEL GARRAHANMAY 17, 2017
Since President Trump’s inauguration in January, Pamela Love has received more requests for pieces from her Dagger jewelry collection than anytime since its introduction almost a decade ago. And Ms. Love, a New York-based designer, has no doubts about why her retailers and social media followers have renewed interest in the fierce-looking, but harmless, miniature daggers dangling from earrings and necklaces.
“Women want to feel tough,” she said. “They want something that reminds them they are tough, and they want something that shows the world they are tough. It’s not about violence. It’s about feeling strong and protected.”
Jewelry, that peculiarly intimate accessory, has long been associated with protection, whether spiritual, emotional or even physical. “Clothing can be a form of armor as well, but jewelry is more personal,” said Hannah Martin, a jewelry designer in London. “You wear it next to your skin, and it imbues more of that strength than, say, a tailored jacket.”
Marion Fasel, a New York-based jewelry historian and founder of the online jewelry magazine The Adventurine, agreed: “It’s a history that stretches back to the dawn of time and across cultures, from prayer beads and amulets on.”
During a period when many think advancements in equal rights and civil rights are under threat, designers and experts say it is not surprising that women are turning to jewelry for a sense of safety and for self-expression. “Women are reacting to the current sense of threat in practical ways, whether it be in protest at the Women’s March, or in using design and crafts as a way of expressing it,” said Rebecca Arnold, a fashion historian with the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.
Ms. Martin’s Possession ring, in yellow and rose gold with cognac diamonds. The British rock singer Jehenny Beth, of Savages, borrowed some rings from the designer to wear while performing. Ms. Martin said the singer told her, “They’re going to give me so much strength on stage.”CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times
Armor rings have been part of Lynn Ban’s collection since she started it in 2011. Ms. Ban, a Singapore native who works in New York, said she was inspired to go one step further when she was commissioned to create jewelry for Rihanna to wear in photographs for W magazine last September.
Told to imagine the pop star as the last woman in a postapocalyptic world, Ms. Ban created a claw armor ring, an articulated design that stretches up the finger and ends in a clawlike pointed tip. “It continues the theme of my signature armor ring but is even more protective,” she said. “It’s like a weapon.”
It is no coincidence, she added, that the design, $2,800 to $3,500 at Dover Street Market in New York, was created during a time of political flux. “Revolution and social protest have always sparked intense periods of creativity,” Ms. Ban said. “Just look at the 1960s.”
For some, making a stand and expressing a political opinion may be as simple as wearing a feminist slogan T-shirt, such as those created by Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior’s spring 2017 collection, and any number of fast-fashion brands. Considering the price of fine jewelry, buying a gold ring with an overtly political message is a more costly proposition.
Two days after Donald J. Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” during the final televised debate of the presidential campaign, Wendy Brandes introduced her Nasty necklace, which spells the word in either silver ($300) or gold ($950). Since some customers wore the design to the polls and to the Women’s March in January, the New York-based designer said the necklace has become her second-best-selling piece, with part of the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.
Ms. Brandes said her customers do not perceive her designs (which also include signet rings depicting a raised first and the Venus symbol) as one-season pieces. “They tell me they’ll pass them down to their daughters,” she said. “People are now realizing that the fight for women’s rights and democracy doesn’t end.”
For Ms. Arnold, the fashion historian, such overt messages are a necessary precursor in any movement toward a more subtle, longer-lasting aesthetic sensibility. “Initially you need the very obvious statement tees or jewelry, but underneath a more subtle idea of strength develops,” she said.
She added that the bold minimalist jewelry offered by the French brand Céline, the Los Angeles-based designer Sophie Buhai and others reflects this deeper trend, harking back to the midcentury period when enormous societal changes for women were taking place. “It was a time of very strong women designers and a very strong visual aesthetic in clothing and jewelry,” Ms. Arnold said. Those midcentury designers included Vivianna Torun of Georg Jensen and Elsa Peretti at Tiffany.
“Peretti once said, ‘I design for the working girl,’” said Ms. Fasel, the jewelry historian, adding that it was no surprise that “she created the Bone Cuff, a bold and accessibly priced piece of jewelry for the pants-wearing woman.”
The bold form of a statement piece has been replacing the recent trend for layering multiple delicate jewels. “Wearing 10 Cartier Love bracelets speaks to me of insecurity and thinking your body should be loved, and needing to show that you are loved,” Ms. Arnold said. “Wearing one statement piece seems more confident." [R. note: given my own tastes for larger, statement like-pieces I'm going to have to strongly agree here! :-) ]
The Possession cuff in yellow and rose gold, with cognac diamonds, by Ms. Martin. On her website she says of the piece: “I wanted to create something powerful and sculptural with a strong sense of tension.” CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times
Selecting jewelry as a means of self-expression (rather than for just the sparkle or an impressive carat weight) is linked to the fact that more women are buying jewelry for themselves than ever before, taking gems out of the realm of being a mere prettifying accessory or a diamond-bedecked gift bestowed on a woman.
“With women buying for themselves, it means jewelry needs to be marketed at women specifically,” Ms. Martin said. “The really overtly feminist designs will die down after a while, but I think the sentiment will remain.”
Ms. Martin’s own unisex collection has always been preoccupied with power and definitions of masculinity and femininity. When the singer of the British rock band Savages, Jehnny Beth, wanted to borrow jewelry for her recent performance with Gorillaz in London, she immediately selected Ms. Martin’s substantial and sculptural Possession and Orbit Super Size rings. “‘It’s got to be these ones,’” Ms. Martin recalled the performer saying. “‘They’re going to give me so much strength on stage.’
Products aside, jewelers have joined celebrities and fashion designers as well as their own customers in talking more openly about their political beliefs.
Ms. Martin, for example, expressed her anger toward President Trump in an Instagram post the week after his inauguration. While most of her followers were supportive, she said, one Trump-voting customer responded angrily, saying she would not buy Ms. Martin’s work again.
The designer said she had not intended to offend anyone, but she believes it is important for businesses such as hers to tackle politics. “The current situation has forced everyone to take a view,” she said.
Ms. Love, who has posted on social media about her participation in the Women’s March and support of organizations like the A.C.L.U., agreed. With 180,000 Instagram followers, she believes it is her duty to take a stand. “I’m not just a machine that makes jewelry,” she said. “I’ve spent the last 10 years building a brand and a following, and if I don’t have the permission to use this voice, then what is the purpose of it?”