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[Tidbits] Crest

This is all about a Crest. A bejeweled crest no less. A thing of
beauty I might add. A bejeweled thing of beauty crest that holds
within its makeup a conundrum. And it is this. Where Does one place
the spire?

Its chains are made of emeralds. It is made of gold encrusted with
diamonds and rubies and emeralds. Tear-drop pearls dangle from its
ornamental sprays. There are slots in the back into which feathers of
the Bird of Paradise are inserted. At its base is an inverted spire
of a gold needle. At the end of its chains are golden hooks. It is a
prime example of 18th century Turkish crest craftsmanship. And it is
upon gazing at this item of incredible beauty that I think I can
understand what caused the demise of the Ottoman empire. Without
clarity there can be no form.

Let us begin with the inverted gold needle at the base. Just where is
this thing supposed to be inserted? Into a intricately woven bouffant
hairdo you say? Well… methinks it would topple over. Drill a hole
in some hapless lady’s head some of you may add. What? Create an new
orifice to accommodate a mere crest others may shriek. I say why
create a new orifice when the body already has so many that might
accommodate our crest. never mind the fact that the new positioning
might seem a tad awkward to some.

And then there are the chains. Four of them. With hooks no less. Ye
gads man. Are we talking multiple new orifices here? Let’s say we’ve
drilled a hole in her head. Where to place the hooked chains? I know.
One hook in each ear… one in each nostril.

If the Sultan hired jewelers to create this kind of stuff. is it any
wonder the empire finally collapsed? Think of the weaponry. Excuse me
your Sultanship. We’ve finished designing the cannons but we’re
having a problem. We don’t know quite where to place the balls for
storage. Any suggestions? Hey Ali. Get over here and show this peon
where to stow those cannonballs.

Still. there is another solution. Perhaps these crest were worn by
Sultans who would surely strenuously object to placing a pointed
golden object there where it was not intended to be placed.
Intelligence has it that the needle was placed firmly into their
turbans and the chains hooked on to the sides of the turbans as well.

I am sure this news is greeted by one and all with a huge sense of
relief for the very idea of placing this object there where it was
never meant to be placed can easily bring terror into the boldest

And there it is. All you ever wanted to know about the placement of
inverted gold spires. You know where to look. It’s worth it. It’s

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits. may I
direct you to my home page at where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits. click it. and you will see represented on our
pages an image of a bejeweled plumed crest of extraordinary beauty.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

FWIW, the name for such an accessory is “aigrette.”

This particular aigrette is perhaps the most famous one in
collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul. Here is an image
of another aigrette in the Topkapi collection:

This fellow’s page has some nice miniatures of Turkish Sultans with
aigrettes in their turbans, and in one case pinned to a fez.

Elliot Nesterman


Each of your tidbits teaches something new! This is especially
fascinating after reading Elliot Nesterman’s post.

Thanks for providing for my continuing education.


Good day Elliot,

You may well be correct in calling this accessory an “aigrette”. Just
FYI. the book I have and which I purchased at the Topkapi museum
calls it a Crest. However. a rose by any other name and all that. I
assume they’re both correct. Thanks for the info.