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.
Such amulets were a part of almost every Italian Jewish home. They were hung over the crib of newly born infants. Even to this day, in many families this custom is still followed. They are most often decorated with representations of some of the Temple implements. This example is unusual in that it contains an unidentified family coat of arms whose main feature is a rampant lion holding a stalk of some sort of grain. Most often these amulets contained a piece of parchment inscribed with the same inscription as the parchment in a Mezuzah. The inscribed parchment is missing from this amulet. Such amulets are known at least from the early 18th century and continued to be made through the 19th century as well in a more simplified form. See an amulet from Torino in the Gross Family Collection as a good example of this phenomenon. Inscription: Shaddai