Obj. ID: 36481
Sacred and Ritual Objects Amulet, Algeria, 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 elaborate necklace is one of a general family of such adornments called the "Grand Kabilye", the name coming from an area of Algeria where this was most likely created. The fully-enameled elements comprising this necklace give it a most attractive aura. The two hamsas make its talismanic content appropriate to the protection of the wearer. While most probably fashioned by an Algerian Jewish craftsman, this piece of jewelry could have been worn by either Jew or Moslem.
The hamsa is arguably the most popular form of amulet against the Evil Eye and is used in a
The hamsa is arguably the most popular form of amulet against the Evil Eye and is used in a large number of countries in the Islamic world. Probably originating in Moslem Spain of the 12th or 13th century, it crossed the sea to Morocco with the expulsion of 1492 and spread across North Africa to the Middle and Far East.