Image Gallery → Dialogue with the Spirit World

  • Small Bag
  • Female Twin Figure
  • Divination Tapper
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Lidded Vessel (Beer Pot)
  • Lidded Vessel
  • Diviner's Bag
  • Diviner's Headdress
  • Koranic Amulet
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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