Werner Forman Archive: amulets and charms

a selection of amulets and charms
Werner Forman Archive newsletter – 28 January, 2020.

Werner Forman photographed all kinds of precious objects in his long career. Here the Archive shows off some jewellery and amulets from the collection.

We particularly like the Thor’s Hammer which has Christian motifs as well – looks like the owner was hedging his bets as to deities. Throughout history people have worn items with religious or magical significance, but they also wanted them to have a bit of ‘bling appeal’ too.

Here’s a small selection amulets and charms.

Pictures from top left:

1. A pendant from the tomb of Tutankhamun in the form of a ‘Wedjat eye’, symbol of protection, flanked by the vulture goddess, Nekhbet and the snake goddess Wadjet, protectors of Upper & Lower Egypt. Ancient Egyptian. Date/Period: 18th dynasty c.1336-1327BC.

2. Pre-colombian animal charms: Miniature amulets of crouching dogs. They are thought to represent stylized spirits of the otherworld. Country of Origin: Dominican Republic. Culture: Taino. Date/Period: c 1000 – 1500 AD. Material: Stone.

3. Thor’s hammer amulet. Illustrates how Christian symbolism was gradually incorporated into Viking artifacts. Country of Origin: Iceland. Culture: Viking. Date/Period: 10th C. Material: bronze.

4. Staff in the form of a coiled serpent. It was found, tangled in a mass of hair, in a chest full of papyri, bearing incantations and prescriptions to secure good health. Country of Origin: Egypt. Culture: Ancient Egyptian. Place of Origin: Thebes. Material: Bronze.

5. An enamelled silver comb ornamented with sacred ceremonial weapons of ancient China. Country of Origin: China. Date/Period: Ming dynasty.

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All images ©Werner Forman Archive.