Magic Bowl

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Magic bowl 19th or 20th century, Iran (?) Brass Historic Scientific Instrument Collection, Special Collections, Hatcher Graduate Library, GL6

Magic bowl


Magic bowl


Like its counterpart, this magic bowl displays the signs of the zodiac on the outer surface. Inside, however, appears the image of an archer, situated above two stylized and interlaced dragons snarling at each other. Vegetal and geometric patterns, including inscribed magic squares, fill the rest of the surface. An object used in folk medicine, this type of bowl was used to heal spiritual ailments such as affliction by the evil eye and physical illnesses like the pains of childbirth or gastro-intestinal problems. When it was filled, the bowl's incised motifs were believed to imbue the liquid with power and blessing (baraka), which the afflicted would then imbibe as a curative potion.

Bibliography: Perk and Paksoy 2011; Savage-Smith 1997, pt. 1, 72–97; Ittig 1982; Spoer 1935; Willemsen 1993; Bates 1991; Khan 2013, 237–238; and Silverman 1991; 2007.

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