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Koranic Amulet

Koranic Amulet

Somali People
Somalia
Necklace with Porte Koran (xirsi)
18th Century
Silver, agate, amber, ivory
Gift of Katheryne Loughran and John Loughran, President, Foundation for Cross Cultural Understanding
2005.28.2

Married Somali women collected lavish jewelry to demonstrate personal wealth and economic independence. In addition to its opulence, this elaborate necklace provides the wearer with protection from disease and the evil eye, both from the amber beads and the koranic script inserted into the tubular pendant (porte Koran), known as a xirsi, or “protection.” Amber has an ancient reputation as a medicinal and spiritually protective substance, perhaps because rubbing amber produces an electrical charge. Amber, copal and other yellow or red stones, such as red agate and carnelian, are seen as having similar prophylactic and healing properties.

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