Join Date: Sep 2012
These belts are Balkan, and were produced primarily during the mid-19th century. They were originally intended as a woman's accoutrement.
They tend to be of very uniform workmanship, indicating they were produced in a particular center or centers. The mounts are brass or bronze and are cast, pierced, and occasionally simply engraved; these are among the least expensive of materials and techniques for producing jewelry. Carnelians were sold in strands of beads from Bohemia to Beijing, and were likewise among the most economical choices for self-adornment. Grinding and polishing them to shape (flat, in this case) is also a relatively simple procedure.
By comparison with other Balkan jewelry and accoutrements, their level of crafting implies that such belts were made to allow members of a median social strata to achieve a required level of status.
Regarding Orientalist paintings as reference materials: though there are exceptions, almost none of the Orientalists painted from life. While the details of individual weapons and other objects can be very useful, it would be wise to approach the context cautiously. Race, ethnicity, architecture, locale, costume and the particular juxtaposition of a group of arms in a given painting are almost entirely unreliable, since they were usually composed by the artist in order to achieve an aesthetic, rather than historical, sensibility.