From Medieval amulets to "ju-ju" pendants
Source document: . Ornament - oděv - šperk : archaické projevy materiální kultury. 1. vyd. Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 2009, pp. 187-195
This contribution centres upon amulets, a specific type of jewellery, the European origin of which can be traced to the early Middle Ages and which can be still found today. Amulets may be considered magical; their function was apotropeic rather than attractive, i.e. their function was to turn away evil powers rather than attract attention. The first group described consists of amulets worn by women from western Germany, chiefly from the Alaman tribe, that hung on leather straps or chains worn around the waist. Pendants included millefiori or glass beads, rock crystal, semiprecious stones, seashells, knives, whorls, strainer-like spoons, scissors and combs. Further important symbols were keys, spoons, balls of rock crystal and various working tools. The second group comprises amulets from the Kiev area of Russia with miniature symbols, such as horse, bird, fish, key, spoon, comb, the jaws of predators and bells. The third group features rosaries from the Alpine regions, and the fourth one charm bracelets, documented as early as AD 400 and still manufactured today in the shape of children's bracelets. To attract good luck and drive off bad luck has always been one of primary human desires. Amulets have thus accompanied mankind since time immemorial, either in a "pure" form (German and east-Slavonic paganism), blended in with Christian apotropaia (Alpine rosaries), or transformed into precious jewellery or children's toys. In a way, they link contemporary society with days long gone, and their study enables us better to understand past cultures as well as our own.
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