Amulets and Talismans of the Middle East and North Africa in Context: Transmission, Efficacy and Collections

Publication Year



Co-editor Petra M. Sijpesteijn, Ph.D. 2004

In this volume amulets and talismans are studied within a broader system of meaning that shapes how they were manufactured, activated and used in different networks. Text, material features and the environments in which these artifacts circulated, are studied alongside each other, resulting in an innovative approach to understand the many different functions these objects could fulfil in pre-modern times. Produced and used by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the case studies presented here include objects that differ in size, material, language and shape. What the articles share is an all-round, in-depth approach that helps the reader understand the complexity of the objects discussed and will improve one’s understanding of the role they played within pre-modern societies.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors
Notes on Transliteration, Names of Persons and Places and Dates

Introduction. Transmission, Efficacy and Collections: Amulets in Interaction with Their Environment
Marcela Garcia Probert and Petra M. Sijpesteijn

Part 1 Transmission

1 Specimens of Judaeo-Arabic and Arabic Magical Texts from the Cairo Genizah
Gideon Bohak

2 A Twentieth-Century Manuscript of the Kitāb al-Mandal al-Sulaymānī (Ar. IES 286, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): Texts on Practices & Texts in Practices
Anne Regourd
3 Arabic Medical-Magical Manuscripts: A Living Tradition
Petra M. Sijpesteijn

Part 2 Efficacy

4 Casting Discord: An Unpublished Spell from the Egyptian National Library
Hazem Hussein Abbas Ali

5 “This Blessed Place”: The Talismanic Significance of House Inscriptions in Ottoman Cairo
Juan E. Campo

6 A Talismanic Scroll: Language, Illumination, and Diagrams
Yasmine Al-Saleh

7 The Material Nature of Block Printed Amulets: What Makes Them Amulets?
Karl Schaefer

Part 3 Collecting and Collections

8 Arabic Magical Texts in Original Documents: A Papyrologist Answers Five Questions You Always Wanted to Ask
Ursula Hammed

9 Amulets and Talismans in the Earliest Works of the Corpus Bunianum
Jean-Charles Coulon

10 Twigs in the Tawfik Canaan Collection of Palestinian Amulets
Marcela Garcia Probert

11 The Collection of Arabic and Persian Seals and Amulets in the British Museum: Notes on a History
Venetia Porter



Series Title
Leiden Studies in Islam and Society
Series Volume
Leiden and Boston
Paper: 9789004471474; ebook: 9789004471481