Obj. ID: 35800
Sacred and Ritual Objects Amulet, Iran, 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.
There are more surviving silver amulets from Iran than from any other area. Within this large quantity of amulets, there are a number of distinctive groups of similar form. This is a part of a sub-group of pairs of amulets that were intended to be worn with cords around each upper arm of a woman. This appears to be a unique Iranian custom.
Part of the group of pairs is this form, with a slightly concave shape with with cut corners and featuring more elaborate workmanship and techniques that other Iranian amulets.The outer edges of the two amulets were decorated in a filigree/granulation technique. The inscriptions, in a clear hollow script,were generally those of multi-letter "names" from the Kabbalistic library of inscriptions. Such pairs were often inscribed with the name of the woman for whom they were made, which in this example is Leah bat Rivka. There are several pairs of amulets from Iran in the Gross Family Collection. Inscription: Leah bat Rivka