Amulet Trail: Donkey charm, Turkey

1903.7.1PRM 1903.7.1

A century ago, the working donkeys on the streets of Istanbul would have worn a bead and tassel charm like this. The colour blue is invested with special powers.

Domesticated animals represent income and livelihoods to many societies and so merit the same protection as people from disease, theft or misfortune. Across Europe, Asia and Africa in particular, cattle and goats can still be seen with amulets around their necks, whilst the harnesses of horses and donkeys might be adorned with blue beads, red tassels, horns, bells, ribbons or pictures of saints. In most cases, such items are designed to protect against the malevolent Evil Eye by absorbing, baffling and exhausting its gaze before it can fix itself upon the animal.

Donkey with amulets, Pakistan (Sheila Paine)

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.

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