Obj. ID: 36483
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, and all the sorts are often found, not only with inscriptions, but with designs of magic squares of amuletic abbreviations, the Magen David and the hamsa.
While a part of the above group, this example carries a pointed-finger hamsa engraved on one side. This form identify it as being from Iraqi Kurdistan. Made to be worn on a chain or cord, the other side is inscribed with Kabbalistic "names". The amulet confers protection on the wearer against the Evil Eye and general protection. The inscription alongside the hamsa is the same as that on two similar depictions, Gross Family Collection 027.001.074 and 027.001.0366 and they would apprear to be of the same general type.
Inscription: Be-Shem Uriel Raphael Gabriel.......