Medicinal and Religious Jewelry. Post 142.
Much antique jewelry was attributed with special powers. Just think of the craze for protective crystals today and multiply that by n to understand the superstition and belief in forces, both good and evil that existed long ago. Medicinal and religious jewelry is beautiful and fascinating to this day.
Amulets of every type have been worn to ward of the evil eye amongst a host of baleful forces in the universe. Some are more obvious than others. I have 3 old Middle Eastern amulets or ‘kameas’ as they are also called. They probably date to the 19th century, but could be earlier. They are constructed of silver (low grade) and each has loops for suspending the pendant. Finely engraved with symbols, signs and writing. Every magic man had his own symbols. One has additional loops at the bottom for hanging even more beneficial charms and thereby adding to the potency of the pendant. I guess 'more is better'.
Writing or script, to bring luck is common - whether from a cheerful Bon Voyage (not such a joke in the days of the Titanic) to the good wishes in Chinese script on the cufflinks below. I also have a pair of cufflinks with verses from the Koran, written in Persian, showing us how far-flung the wish to protect ourselves ranges. Most interestingly, I recently read how the type of script used tells scholars what date an item was made. For example, the Lombardic script was used in a certain period and rings engraved with this script will fall squarely into that time. More floral script came later and is thus used to date items of that period.
#5908 Chinese cufflinks.
Here is a silver necklace that incorporates many Hindu gods, especially Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. Much antique Hindu jewelry will incorporate the gods, with Ganesh and Lakshmi being amongst the favorites. Every god in the Hindu pantheon had his/her own powers.
One of the most fascinating forms of jewelry is Navaratna or 9-gem. This is a powerful collection of 9 stones, arranged like the planets around the sun, each with its own protective or magnetic force. Every gem has its own powers - to ward off certain evils or to attract certain benefits and this relates to both the celestial and molecular level. Navaratna jewelry is pure magic. I have written about it in a number of blog posts in the past.
#5752 Navaratna ring
Religious jewelry is not confined to any one religion. I am fascinated by this ring. Who owned it and why did they wear such a clearly religious item, for it was clearly worn by a religious person? Could it have belonged to a nun or someone pledging herself to a convent? The mystery will probably remain unsolved forever.
Every bishop was consecrated with a ring and bishop's rings are highly sought after and can be found dating back over 1000 years. Crosses and Stars of David appear in jewelry of every sort over many centuries.
What is it about wearing something that belonged to someone else that fascinates and draws us? Does their power and status transfer to us when we attach a part of them to ourselves? During previous centuries, many jewels were made incorporating a locket of a loved one's hair. This romantic jewelry is often confused with memorial jewelry - which relates to a lost loved one.
Sometimes, the powers in a jewel are more direct. As children, we were awed by tales of poison rings. They certainly exist, whether to contain poison or perhaps smelling salts, I don't know. Perhaps not all were as nefarious as we would like to imagine. Here is a charming ring with a little compartment: #5728 that dates to the Victorian era.
When you think about it, what is the difference between the superstitious jewelry of ancient times and the medicinal? Both were worn to benefit the wearer in some way. Today's craze for crystals reflects this wish for a safer world. Pity it's not housed in the beautiful jewelry that our predecessors invested in.