The long tradition of filigree jewellery making in Sudan

African Art is a family owned business located in the historic Omdurman Central Market (Souk Omdurman) in Sudan.

Abd Elhamid Hammza, also know as Bulbul and his two sons are running the filigree jewellers workshop that has been established 500 years ago by their ancestors craftsmen. They create beautiful and unique pieces, and also extend their quality workmanship and design skills to remodelling and repair work. Jewellery techniques such as filigree are slowly disappearing. Bulbul Africa Art workshop is the one to craft silver filigree jewellery in Omdurman.

Filigree jewellery

Filigree (also less commonly spelled filagree, and formerly written filigrann or filigrene) is a type of delicate jewel work that involves the use of gold, silver, or other fine twisted wire. It is a complicated and time consuming technique which takes years to master.

The pieces form their shape when hairline strips of twisted silver and gold thread are manipulated and shaped into varying patterns. The meticulous metalwork is occasionally teamed up with delicate beading that adds both variation and detail.

It often suggests lace and remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork. It was popular as well in Italian and French metalwork from 1660 to the late 19th century. It should not be confused with ajoure jewellery work, the ajoure technique consisting of drilling holes in objects made of sheet metal.

The English word filigree is shortened from the earlier use of filigreen, which derives from Latin “filum” meaning thread and “granum” grain, in the sense of small bead. The Latin words gave filigrana in Italian which itself became filigrane in 17th-century French.

Omdurman Central Market, Souk Omdurman

Omdurman is regarded among the towns of distinct character in the country as it has a remarkable cultural and historical heritage. Souk Omdurman is the oldest market place in Omdurman town since the nineteenth century. It is the beating heart of the town and is one of the dominant features of Omdurman. It acquired this reputation from its influence on the local economy of the National Capital Omdurman, and on the tourism sector as general. Souk Omdurman has its unique character and identity, which is honoured by all Omdurman inhabitancies’ and the Sudanese as a whole, it represents their cultural and social heritage. Souk Omdurman is famous for its traditional products, made by the hands of very skilled artisans, using ebony, ivory, silver, gold and leather to produce their handicraft art pieces.

Gold and silver sector

It is one of the most famous sectors of the market although it is not the eldest. The number of gold shops is 56 shops. Before goldsmiths used to work inside the shop itself, as they didn’t have the modern machines for gold making. Nowadays, after the introduction of modern machinery for gold, the need for a workshop aroused. The new machines replaced the old craftsman who was working manually on gold manufacturing, producing a masterpiece each time. The designs are now imported from the Gulf and Far East countries as well as the workers, replacing the old Sudanese traditional designs.

Dalal Suliman Mohamed Hussein, A Study Of Dynamics Of Omdurman Market (Souk Omdurman) and Wikipedia

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