Paper charm against toothache, Scotland, 1860-1880

Made:
1860-1880 in Scotland
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Paper charm against toothache, mounted on card under glass, Scottish, 1860-1880

The growing influence of biomedicine in the 1800s did not necessarily replace established forms of treatment based on belief and superstition. What could be referred to as folk medicine – customs that often went back generations – continued to be practised. For example, this charm was to be worn around the neck to prevent toothache. Sometime described as a spell, the charm reads:

“In the Name of the Lord God, Peter sat on a marble stone weeping, Christ came by and asked what aileth thee Peter? Peter said, O Lord God my teeth doth ache, Christ said arise Peter and be whole and not only thee but all them that carries these lines for my sake shall never have the toothache.”

This particular paper charm was written for a Mary McLeod. Similar versions of the text have been found that date back over a thousand years. The charm was presented to the Wellcome collections by a churchman from the Island of Mull, Scotland, around 1921.

Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A650877
Materials:
charm, paper, glass and mounting, card
type:
charm - spell
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • costume
  • jewellery
  • pendant
  • visual and verbal communication

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