Exhibition „Money as Jewellery”
The exhibition „Money as Jewellery” shows the diversity in tradition, customs, values and aesthetic criteria in a 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 also 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 woman’s head disk (tepeluk) protected 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, but also from the historical point of view, to learn the situation of Montenegro in the old times through the prism of money that lost its primary purpose of being the means of payment but got a new dimension. Owing to this, even not knowing the monetary history of our country, one may learn about the influence of great powers on this region and how they were so entrenched that their customs became a part of our culture, customs, and the overall identity.
The exhibited jewellery dating back primarily from the 19th and early 20th century contains Austrian, French, Russian, Serbian coins, and predominantly Turkish coins.