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Necklace of snake vertebrae, Europe, 1871-1916

Necklace of snake vertebrae, Europe, 1871-1916

Credits: Science Museum

The growing influence of biomedicine in the 1800s did not necessarily replace established forms of treatment based on belief and superstition. What could be referred to as folk medicine – customs that often went back generations – continued to be practised. For example, here the bones of a snake have been threaded on to string to make a rather uncomfortable looking necklace. It is thought that this amulet was used to protect against lower back pain – perhaps the fluid slither of a snake was thought to encourage the back muscles to stay supple. The snake necklace was originally made in North London and then purchased in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms. Lovett was interested in folk remedies all his life and began collecting from the age of eight.

Object number:

A665420

 

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    Glossary:

    Glossary: necklace

    Ornaments worn around the neck, usually in the form of chains or strands of beads, pearls, stones, or the like, and often including a suspended ornamental pendant. Use "chokers" for short, narrow necklaces worn close to the throat. Use "dog collars (necklaces)" for wide ornamental bands worn tightly around the neck.

    Glossary: snake vertebrae

    No description.

    Glossary: amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.

    Glossary: lumbago

    A term used to describe mild to severe lower back pain.