27 Amulet


Italy, 1870

silver, cast, engraved,

Gift of Baron Béla Dirsztay, 1912

This item is an example of a widespread baroque amulet design from eighteenth century Italy. There is a baldachin with a rosette on the top, and a bunch of grapes on the bottom. The parchment scroll inscribed with the magical texts that was thought to give the amulet its protective power was rolled on a small metal rod in between. The silver case itself is cartouche shaped, embossed, richly decorated with acanthus leaves and typical items of Jewish iconography –related to redemption. Although the Torah strongly condemns and prohibits any form of witchcraft and occultism, in folk religiosity items were held in high esteem that protected their wearers from ill fortune and bad luck. The founders of the Jewish Museum did not favor preservation of the superstitious reminders of the past, wherefore the item was listed as Torah ornament, belittling its original meaning, but still preserving its artistic value. Donated to the museum by the famous Jewish art collector, Béla Disztray in 1912.