Obj. ID: 35789
Sacred and Ritual Objects Amulet, Iraqi Kurdistan, circa 1930
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 amulet shape of an almost square form with clipped corners is among the most common for Kurdistani talismans. They were made for numerous contexts, including the protection of birthing mothers and their children, as is documented in a famous picture of a child from Sandor, in Iraqi Kurdistan, wearing such an amulet on a chain over her shoulder. This shape also is found in smaller sizes. Numerous sorts are often found, not only with inscriptions, but with designs of magic squares of amuletic abbreviations, the Magen David and the hamsa. On this amulet are found various names of God, including the 14-letter name, the Tetragrammaton.The names of the three protective angels for birthing mothers and child, Sanoi, Sansanoi and Smangalaf, are inscribed, indicating its use as a birth amulet, along with the names of other angels. This type of amulet was called "possible Shaddai" or "Yahadonai". They often accompanied people from childhood. The first angel name of the amulet is Arbatiel, an unusual name in the angelic lists, but one found frequently in Iraqi amulets. The purpose of this amulet was general protection for the wearer.
Inscription: Amuletic "names" and formulas; Adonai Shadai be-Shem Abartiel......