Object History: Amulets
noun /ˈamjʊlɪt/ 1. an ornament or small piece of jewellery thought to give protection against evil, danger, or disease.
Most cultures incorporate a dose of superstition into their daily lives, including a need for protection against the ever-present evil eye. Across the ages, amulets and talismans have been imbued by their wearers with the power to protect and bring good fortune. Ancient Egyptians were strong believers in the power of amulets to benefit both the living and dead; a small carved deity to fulfil a wish, or an inscribed piece of jewellery to grant the mummy a safe journey to the afterlife.
Amulets take many shapes and forms; amongst the souq in Damascus, one can find entanglements of sea creatures and parts of exotic animals: pelts of small cats, turtle shells, small crocs, sharks and puffer fish, starfish, stuffed birds, antlers and horns, crabs, porcupine quills, wolves teeth and other strung pods, bark and spices. For a while I flirted with antique Chinese children’s clothes and although I did not pursue this collection, I love the idea that if you dressed a child up in clothes that looked and smelt of animals (such as ears on hats and tiger shoes with animal fur hidden within), the evil spirits would confuse it for an animal, and leave it to live a long, happy & prosperous life.
As any good traveller knows, you need a little extra protection when embarking on a new adventure. I wear two amulets, both made from leather, with various items stitched inside them to keep me out of harms way.
A string of bone beads that I picked up in a Sevillano flea market hangs on an old wire coat hanger with a carved bone Chinese talisman my mother gave me. Place on a nail, pride of place or back of a door, a nice way to display your strung things (even jewellery) and an easy way to change as regularly as you like.
Shop our collection of amulets and talismans