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Amulets

 

Amulets to ward off evil come in large variety of different shapes and materials. General information on amulets is for instance nicely described by Sheila Paine in her books. A lot of information is given by the Pitt Rivers Museum holding the Mortillet’s amulet collections (check out the website of the Pitt Rivers for an impressive online catalogue). But of course, these are by no means the only description and collections of amulets. Amulets are used all over the world in prescribed shapes, such as silver zār amulets from Egypt; or the arousa el burqa, a amulet container worn on the brow of a woman; or beaded amulets, where the beadwork is used as a pouch. However, amuletic qualities may also be attributed to shells (such as cowry shells) or materials with less standardized shapes. Mirrors and tassels in different shapes and fabrication may distract evil and sometimes simple findings may be added to costume to bring luck.

In these pages pictures of amulets are presented that I have collected over the years. The collection mainly originated in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Different shapes that are often used in jewelry and their specific meaning will be addressed in separate pages. As archaeologist I am particularly interested in objects that may appear to be mere trash, but to which a specific amuletic quality is attributed. Such as the watch-elements in the pictures below or the sole of a sandal around the neck of a donkey (image left center).

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