Antique Oman silver disk Amulet with Koranic text (and shackled Jinn on the back)

Kirsh Kitab
  • Description

Common Omani Silver Samt pendant (Silver disk):

a) On the front of this silver medal is a Koranic text   "the Throne" = Ayat 255 of the second Surat of the holy Koran) This text is believed to have protective amuletic properties (protect against evil spirits) 

b) Engraved on the back of the pendant is a stylized image of a female djinn or spirit, sometimes known as the 'Umm al-subyan' (mother of the boys)handcuffed and shackled at the ankles.

The wearer of this element is clearly "betting on two horses",  if the front charm does not work he still has the one on the back of the medal!

According to Oman Adorned (ref 1)  p 102, 'On the back of the samt there was almost always a small figure - on older examples, in a highly stylised form - representing a jinn (a spirit, not necessarily evil) - though some referred to this figure specifically as a sheytan, or devil. This figure, which seems to represent a female spirit, umm al-subyan, "mother of the boys", was depicted as being handcuffed and shackled at the ankles (some say this was carried out by the Prophet Suleiman, in order to render her powerless): she was said to give children nightmares, and boys wet-dreams, and the samt was often placed around the boy's neck, or under his pillow, or was wrapped in leather and tied just above the elbow during sleep, in order to protect the sleeper from harm. The same figure was sometimes drawn on a slip of paper, along with Qur'anic verses, the paper then being carefully folded up and put into a silver hirz or wrapped in a leather pouch. This amulet was then called hirz al-qama, "hirz of the standing (figure) "  It was worn, especially by young boys and married women, to protect them from the female spirit or she-devil, and from the bad dreams and mental disturbance which she brought. Weight 40 grams. Diameter of the disk is  6,5 cm.

Antique Omani silver amulet 

Koranic Verses

Omani silver amulet

Example of a shackled Jinn on the back of the amulet, in case the verses on the front do not work!

Arab name: Samt / Kirsh Kitab (coin or disk with writing)

Period: 1850-1950

Origin: Oman  

References:
  1. Oman Adorned by Pauline Shelton Robert Richmond Miranda Morris / Apex London 1997 101-105 ;
  2. A tribute to Oman The Sultanates Yearbook: 1993/1994 "Safe and Sound" by Robert Richmond Apex p 192.
  3. For a description of the use of the Holy Koran Verse "The Throne" see Zwemer " The influence of animism on Islam 1920 page 196 ;
  4. Disappearing treasures of Oman 1998 by Avelyn Foster p 39 ;
  5. Traditional silver jewelry and handicrafts from Oman 2009 by Jean Greffioz p 73
  6. Arab & Islamic Silver by Saad Al-Jadir 1981 Stacey International p 107 bottom right
  7. Ethnic Jewellery from Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands 2002 Amsterdam Pepin Press p 63
  8. Islamic Art in Oman page 340 and 341 Poor example
  9. The National Museum of Oman Highlights published by Scala Arts & Heritage publishers in  2016 page 44, similar amulet on a silver chain.
  10. The peoples of Zanzibar, their customs and religious beliefs by Godfrey Dale, universities mission to central Africa  Westminster London 1920 page 38-45. He writes on page 38:  "Belief in witchcraft and magic seems to be universal amongst the people of Africa, and even in Zanzibar and Pemba in spite of the presence of Islam, has a very strong hold on the minds of the people.  Mohammed himself evidently believed in it, is said to have suffered from the consequeces of it, and to have been given the last chapters of the Koran in order to enable him to recover from these consequences. In fact these two last chapters are considered  to be of great value as a preservative against witchcraft, and are constantlyon talismans or recited for this purpose etc."