Obj. ID: 36392
Sacred and Ritual Objects Amulet, Iraqi Kurdistan, circa 1900
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 example is an amulet in the clipped-corner square shape of Iraqi Kurdistan, but with the kind of large hollow lettering found more often in Iranian amulets. It appears that the amulet was done by two hands. One for the 42-letter name and the other for the simpler script inside. The two "figures" could be interpreted as the mother and child within for whose protection this amulet was made.
Inscription: Nazdari bat Malkah; (42 letter name)