Ex-Voto Eyes, France

Transferred from the Wellcome Institute in 1985; 1985.52.393
These Roman Catholic ex-voto eyes were acquired in Saumur, France in 1890. Votive offerings are symbols of devotion and gratitude and can take many different forms, such as placing lit candles, placing flowers, pictures or notes before icons, or hanging little tokens like these eyes at a shrine. They can be homemade, specially commissioned, or bought from religious vendors, and are made from many different materials, including paper, wax, bone, wood, silver, tin, copper, bronze, and gold. These eyes are made from a white metal, and would have been hammered into shape over a mould by a silversmith.
Ex-votos are offered when miracles are sought and also given in thanks for recovery. They commonly take the shape of human body parts, hearts and animals, and are made to represent the part or creature affected by illness or healed by divine intervention. Eyes represent ocular diseases and blindness, ears are offered for deafness and infections, and limbs are given for broken bones, gangrene and paralysis. 
Connected Objects: Ex-Voto Limbs

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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