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Antique Silver Zar Jewelry Cylindrical Amulet Holder Pendant from Egypt

Antique Silver Zar Jewelry Cylindrical Amulet Holder Pendant from Egypt

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A very rare antique silver zar amulet holder from Egypt. This pendant is worn in a ritual called the zar (visit) which is meant to appease the spirit that dwells in people, usually women. 

The amulet box is shaped like a tube and has embossed and chased patterns. It opens on one side. The pendant has three bails and there are 7 dangles called galagil which make sound with movement. This pendant has an assay mark for 60% pure silver on both the body of the pendant and the cap that opens. Unusually it also has this mark on each of hte jump ring that attach to the small dangles and bails.  It also has another mark that preceded the cat mark (elephant?) which is difficult to decipher. The pendant is earlier than 1916 and is therefore antique and with all its original components. 

The amulet case can also be used by the population at large, not only for the zar ritual. It normally has verses from the Koran inside it to protect the wearer. The box was empty when it was acquired as is usual with these amulet boxes, since each amulet is custom made for the wearer and it is considered very bad luck to pass on to another person.  The pendant is usually worn from short chains and attached with a hook to the clothes or to the head. 

Zar jewelry was essential to the ritual which involved a lot of rhythmic music and dancing. Run by women for women, the only male attendants of the zar where musicians. The purpose of the ritual was to appease the spirits that have inhabited a body, but may in fact acted to release the psychological pressures experienced by women in their daily lives. The zar jewelry is becoming as much a rarity as the zar ritual itself which is now frowned upon both by secular and Islamist sectors in Egyptian society.  

  • length is 8.5 cm or 3 3/8".
  • width is 2 cm (3/4") with the dangles adding another 2 cm (3/4").
  • Weight is 31.9 grams
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