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Obj. ID: 36976
Sacred and Ritual Objects
  Amulet, Baghdad, 1892/3

© Gross Family Collection, Photographer: Bar Hama, Ardon, -

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.

There were several classic Iraqi Jewish amulets, all of which are attached to this elegant 22 karat gold necklace. This necklace, which can carry a variety of amulets, is called "Salchani". All the elements are on a long gold chain, the necklace being worn across the chest rather than around the neck as a normal necklace. There is an inscription on the three amulet cases identifying the owner as Miriam the daughter of Tovah Gabai. The Gabbai family was a part of the Sassoon family, widely known as the Sephardic Rothschilds. That fact would explain the great elegance and richness of the necklace. In the Gross Family Collection is such a neckalce in two sizes: this large one, apparently for a mother, and a smaller one, apparently for a child.

The three hollow amulet holders may have held or still hold written amulets or some kind of spice or grain that also has magic qualities. In addition there is a carved oak "nut" in thin gold ribbon wrapping, called an "afsa" from which is hung a small hamsa with a blue stone in the middle. Another element is a ceramic piece glazed in blue with seven depressions; this amulet is called "saba iyun", or "seven eyes". A third element is an amulet with opposing wolf's teeth, from which is hung a small gold hamsa with a blue turquoise stone set in the middle of the palm. This amulet is called "kake dgurga deva", often hung around the child's neck with the appearance of the first tooth. A fourth element is a gold disk with an enamel image of a palm tree.

Inscription: Miriam bat Tovah Gabai (5)653 [1892/3]

11 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
Amulet | Unknown
Object Detail
Monument Setting
Unknown
Date
1892/3
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Origin
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Congregation
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown|
Period
Unknown
Period Detail
Collection
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Gold, Turqouise, Wood, Wolf Tooth, Cut, Set, Carved
Material Stucture
Material Decoration
Material Bonding
Material Inscription
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Length: 66 cm Weight: 176 g
Height
Length
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Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
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Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
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Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
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Summary and Remarks
Suggested Reconsdivuction
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Bibliography
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Architectural Drawings
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Computer Reconstruction
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Negative/Photo. No.