Aug 4, 2012

Bosnian amulets


Among the Bosniaks (as everywhere else in the Muslim world), the religious amulets are written in Arabic characters, but sometimes also by means of various secret writings. Most of the time, they appeared on small pieces of paper (in general rather white), even on rollers (from 5 to 10 cm broad,of variable length, up to 50 cm and sometimes much more, up to three meters), or on varied materials (various kinds of leather, stones, sheets of trees, egg shells, etc.). They contain either Qur'anic quotations, prayers, magic triangles or squares, usually written with a pen made out of reed, the kalam, but some times also with a gold or iron pen, if not with special grass. An amulet can be made for medical aims (fever, tooth ache, psychoses, to facilitate childbirth, etc.), or for practical or emotional aims (to have children, to obtain the love of someone, or the separation from someone, to make the beloved one returns, to know the situation of a absent person, to know the thoughts of someone, to predict the future...).

Apotropaic scriptures (zapisi) also belong to this category. These are shorter  quotations from the Koran, written on pieces of paper usually by  Moslem priests and given to members of the congregation for protection from particular diseases. The hodzas wrote special notes in ink: for healing, for success in business, and to counteract evil spells. These notes, called zapisi, were worn around the neck in a special locket, or sewn into the inside pocket of a shirt, or braided into the hair. Sometimes they were soaked in water and drunk.

If the patient was not cured by the amulets, sometimes, when the conditions could be met, one tried another magic ritual, in particular a form of very peculiar and spectacular magic, that of the dâ'ira, or « djinns convocation ».


                                             OTHER AMULETS

"Ručica hazreti Fatime" or "Hand of hazreti Fatima" - (Anastatica hierochuntica) is a shrub that grows in the deserts of northern Africa and southwestern Asia. It is very hygroscopic and can live without water for a long time.When a piece of the shrub is put into water, it suddenly gets »alive« and spreads its twigs like the fingers on the hand. The hand of hazreti Fatima  was used in difficult childbirth, when it was put in water, because according the principles of imitative magic it was believed that at the same way the mother's womb will widen and the baby will be born more easily.

Oman (Inula helenium L.) is the name of the plant the root of which was used as amulet. Pieces of the root were worn on necklaces by deserted women in order to regain the affection of their husbands.

Amulet (hamajlija) from a village near Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina, start of the 20th century. Three pieces of yew wood, one cowry shell (Cypraea moneta) and two mother-of-pearl buttons sewn on a red silk ribbon. Such amulets were onto children's clothes in order to protect the child from the evil eye.