Student Interpretation → Ashleigh Lynch

  • Koran Necklace

Somali Koran Necklace

Koranic amulets, or xirsi, offer protection against malignant forces that may cause illness or misfortune. The written text of the Koran is considered to be a manifestation of God's power, and thus the most effective means of averting evil. This elaborate necklace provides double protection from amber beads and koranic script inserted into the tubular pendant. Amber has been celebrated since the days of the ancient Greeks as a medicinal and apotropaic substance. In Somalia, amber is linked to a woman's dowry. Only young brides are permitted to wear fragrant beads, yet another quality inherent to amber. Agate, ivory, and silver are also layered with symbolism conveying the wearer's status.

Koranic Amulet

Koranic Amulet

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

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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