Anthropomorphic iris root

Made:
1891-1900 in England

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Amuletic iris root, anthropomorphic, supposed to have curative powers, carried by Jews in Whitechapel 1900, part of Lovett collection, English, 1891-1900

Anthropomorphic objects are those whose shape resembles that of a human. They have often been attributed with special powers or healing properties. This piece of iris root, with its vaguely human shape, was believed to have curative powers. It may have been used to reduce the pain of teething as iris root rubbed on the gums was a well known way to relieve pain.

This object was acquired in Whitechapel, in the East End of London, in 1900 by Edward Lovett (1852-1933). Lovett was a collector of British amulets and charms and documented different medical traditions and beliefs. He believed that carrying such roots was a particularly Jewish custom.

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A132420
Measurements:
overall: 26 mm x 75 mm x 25 mm, .015 kg
type:
iris root
credit:
Lovett, E.R.