This antique handwoven Berber belt was sourced from the southern Morocco town of Zagora. It is very unusual to see an item of this age in such excellent condition. We have never seen another piece at all similar to this design and craftsmanship.
A tightly woven striped wool design emanates from centrepiece of the belt, in vibrant naturally dyed green, orange, black, red, blue and yellow. Each side of the belt ends in fringe, and the belt ties around the back. The centrepiece is a cacophony of beads and colors. In the middle is a snail shell, affixed with black silk cord and adorned with a black onyx bead. This is surrounded by large orange coral stones, interspersed with onyx. From there a plethora of beads fill the centrepiece: glass "trade" beads, wood beads, craved bone beads, clay beads, amazonite beads, jasper beads, agate beads, turquoise beads, pewter beads, silver beads, amber beads, polished pink coral beads, and more.
Providing further adornment to the centrepiece of the belt are three silver coins. The largest, dating from the early 1900s, hangs from the centre and has been decorated with a piece of blue glass. The two flanking are from different years but are nearly identical in size. One reads "1312", which is the year 1894; the other looks a bit older but likely dates from about the same time period. The back of the centrepiece is protect by a large piece of brown leather that has been whipstitched on using black thread. It shows minor wear but is still quite supple and fragrant.