- Place of origin:
- Materials and Techniques:
- Credit Line:
Given by Dame Joan Evans
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 1, shelf 2
Amulets were worn by men, women and children throughout southern Europe in the 19th century. Before the development of modern medicine, fevers, cramps and toothache could be painful and dangerous. Childbirth could kill mother or child. Many people believed that the supernatural powers embodied in an amulet could promote fertility and good health and offer protection against malign forces or the ‘evil eye’. The Catholic Church held conflicting views on the use of amulets. Although it was opposed to the pagan nature of many amulets, it accepted their use if combined with Christian beliefs and imagery.
The stone in this ring is the operculum of the shell of a sea-snail from the Mediterranean. These shells have been worn as amulets in many southern European countries since at least Roman times, and they were also popular in southern Germany and Austria. In Spain, they were known as ‘habas’, meaning beans, and were usually used to guard against headaches. They were often worn set in a silver ring, as in this example. The words on the shank stand for ‘Holy and immortal god’ in Greek, and would have enhanced the protective value of the shell.
Silver ring, the bezel with a piece of trochus shell in a serrated setting. The hoop inscribed in Roman capitals AGIOS + OEOS + EATANATOS with a pellet on each shoulder.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
AGIOS + OEOS + EATANATOS
inscription, the hoop; in Roman capitals
Height: 2.7 cm, Width: 2.5 cm, Depth: 1.8 cm
Silver ring, the bezel with a piece of trochus shell in a serrated setting. The hoop inscribed in Roman capitals AGIOS + OEOS + EATANATOS with a pellet on each shoulder, Spain, 1700-1800.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
For comments on the wearing of opercula in rings, see:
Hildburgh, W.L. 'Notes on Spanish Amulets' in FOLK-LORE Vol. XVIL, 1906
Jewellery; Metalwork; Amulets; Europeana Fashion Project