According to the book Enchanted Jewelry of Egypt the word Zār is the past tense of the Arabic verb ‘to visit’. While the Zār predates Islam and hearkens back to a time when pan-African society was culturally quite similar, it has been successfully integrated into Islamic civilization, and most lyrics are about God and the Prophet.
Rites are performed to persuade a spirit to leave, thus releasing the person from the duty to obey that spirit. There are dozens of different spirits causing ‘Zar’ illnesses. These malevolent demons are believed to possess humans, this being more common among women. At the same time, many believe in benevolent, protective spirits, or abdar. While this belief in Abdar and Zār fits the traditional dualism of good and evil, it is also deeply rooted in superstition. In the course of ceremonies during which a patient acts and is addressed as “bride of the Zār spirit” numerous necessaries and amulets are used. The Zar is a rite of protection little known outside Egypt. It is practiced in order to conciliate the spirit of Zar who can take possession of a person and cause him problems both physical and mental.
Each Amulet of the collection depicts one of the large number of Zār spirits. The reverse side shows an engraved text with the formula “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate” and in most cases the first words of the Thronverses : Sura 2,Vers 256, one of the most quoted verses in the Qur’an. It famously notes that “there is no compulsion in religion”. Most amulets are disc-shaped, being used primarily for illnesses affecting the soul- and are decorated with 8 or 9 ‘galagis’. It is believed that the sound of the little bells helps to counter the influences of the world of demons.
The Zār amulets in the catalogue were handmade, nicely engraved and of high quality. All amulets have the official threepart silver hallmark of early 20th century on the side carrying the text.
Similar samples of these amulets can be found in the book Enchanted Jewelry of Egypt pp. 168 -170.
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Amulet Egypt/ Zār (01)The pendant depicts a camal with ‘mahmal’ a mounted litter covered with precious textiles refers to the Egyptian pilgrim caravans to Mecca. The Egypt three tier silver hallmark shows cat with lifted tale dates early 20st century ∅ 5.5 cm 18g Price € 45
Amulet Egypt/ Zār (05)The fish representation on this square amulet refer to the ‘Sultan al Bahri’ ,the river demon. The rectangular shape is less common. The ornament is worn for “the head illnesses” on the temples. Silver hallmark shows cat with lifted tale dates early 20st century Size Plate 4×2 cm 17g Price € 35
Amulet Egypt /Zār (06 )This ritual pendant is made of an old coin from Egypt, a king Farouk coin. This coin has been transformed as a silver zar pendant. King Farouk ,great-great son of Muhammed Ali pasha, is depicted as pasha and symbolizes the Zar demon Yawri Bey Coin 20 piastres (crown )1939(AH1358) silver 0,749902 ASW. ∅ 3 cm 26gr Price € 45
Amulet Egypt/Zār (08) The pendant depicts the Zar demon Yawri Bey. He takes the appearance of a Turkish pasha with stretched out arms Silver hallmark shows cat with lifted tale dates early 20st century ∅ 5,5cm 25g Price € 35
Amulet Egypt /Zār (09 ) The Zar demon Yawri Bey portrayed as a Turkish pasha but in another pose than on amulet nr 08 Silver hallmark shows cat with lifted tale dates early 20st century ∅ 5,4 22g Price € 35
Amulet Egypt /Zār(11) Again the Zar demon Yawri Bey is shown on the pendant He takes the appearance of a Turkish pasha with stretched out arms, rather simple etched. Silver hallmark shows cat with lifted tale dates early 20st century. ∅ 3,9cm 9g Price € 15