Img. ID: 338863
The following description was prepared by William Gross:
From earliest times, man has tried to protect himself from misfortune by the use of objects which he considered holy or otherwise (e.g., magically) potent. Amulets and talismans are items generally worn around the neck or wrist, carried in a pocket or purse or hung on a wall. They are meant to protect or aid those who carried or wore them. The Hebrew word for amulet, kame‘a, has the root meaning "to bind". Jewish amulets are usually comprised of texts (either letters or graphic symbols) that are inscribed on some sort of material; some may also contain plant matter or precious stones. The texts of amulets usually include holy names that are believed to have the ability to affect reality, along with incantations summoning angels or other magical powers. For the most part, an amulet has a specific purpose: to ease childbirth, facilitate recovery from illness, improve one’s livelihood, and so on, but in the modern world many are also made for general protection.
This is the most characteristic of Italian amulets, a group for which examples are present in almost all Italian Jewish homes, even to this day. Such talismans were hung over the crib of a newly- born infant for protection against Lilith and the "Evil Eye". The amulet is known as a "Shaddai", one of the names of God, the letters of which are general engraved on the silver object. This example is decorated with 4 symbols to recall the Holy Temple: the Menorah, the mitre of the high priest, the censor and the magic squarets of the Law. The amulet is hollow and generally found inside is a piece of parchment on which is inscribed the "Shema Yisrael...” Some examples of this type carry silver marks dating to the 18th century, so probably the unmarked versions, such as this one, are from the same period. In the 19th century there are different types of deteriorated quality of workmanship.
Inscription: Abbreviation of the Ten Commandments Shaddai