Totem necklace “Hero”

Aigana Gali
Totem Necklace “Hero”, 2021
Gold-plated bronze necklace
28 x 16.5 cm full necklace, 14 x 11 cm when detached (head with bird on a sun disk), 215 grams.
Edition of 25 plus 2 AP
Signed and numbered

Aigana Gali’s wearable art project Totem Necklace “Hero” (2021) is a contemporary reimagination of the traditional Kazakh necklace Onirzhiek. Historically worn by the warriors of the great Central Asian steppes, the spiritual craft of making the Onirzhiek necklace has been passed on between generations for millennia. The archaeological expeditions in eastern Kazakhstan have found examples of such amulet adornments from the sixth-fourth centuries Before the Common Era.

In this totemic creation Aigana Gali brings her people’s ancient tradition into the modern world. The artist enlivens the customary interconnected horizontal rows of the Kazakh chest necklace with deities and metaphors from different times and locales of our global multi-cultural society. The bird reminisces about Noah’s biblical heroic salvation of the animal kingdom, and the luminous golden disk on which the bird rests references humanity’s oneness symbolized by the Ancient Egyptian God of Sun Ra. The Hero’s genderless face cautions of the dangers of the social ego, its wide-open third eye invites wisdom and intuition while the crosses on its cheeks focus the energy on brave action. The wings allow for briskness of choice and the tree branches are symbolic of new beginnings. The fish on which the Hero stands warns about the slipperiness and risk of wanting to attain a single universal Truth.

The beautiful spiritual symbols of this chest necklace empower its wearer to bravely follow their dreams while reminding them to protect their most precious source of inspiration and creativity – the heart chakra.


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