Textual Amulet, France


Transferred from the Wellcome Institute in 1985; 1985.52.1001.1-4
Amulets containing handwritten or printed texts on sheets and scraps of parchment or paper have been used since the Middle Ages. Worn around the neck or carried on the body, they were thought to drive away evil spirits, bring good fortune, offer protection, and heal afflictions.
Many amulets like this one contained religious texts, and were sanctioned and produced by the Church. Unlike other religious objects with brief devotional inscriptions, textual amulets afforded the capacity to carry entire prayers and long passages in small rolls and folded sheets of paper. Enclosed in capsules, pouches and purses, they were also relatively inexpensive, lightweight, portable, and concealable.
This blue triangular fabric pouch was acquired in Paris. It contained five pieces of folded paper, with Latin and French prayers and inscriptions printed in black ink. The Latin text was printed in Marseilles in 1883, and is a reprint of a 17th century Franciscan text. It includes several passages and prayers asking for protection and blessing, including the beginning of the holy Gospel according to John and Si quaeris miracula (‘If Thou Seekest Miracles’), which was once a popular devotion to Saint Anthony of Padua.
Connected Objects: Qu'ranic Amulet

Artisans of Memory

Behind the scenes of an amulets project

This series of short films follows the progress and practices of those connected with the Small Blessings project as they unravel the stories surrounding these curious objects.

The full series of films may be viewed here.


Amulets Competition

The competition is now closed and a winner has been announced. Find out more here.

Designated Outstanding Collection LogoArts Council England LogoprmvcEmail us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Copyright 2012 The Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford