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Oval amulet to protect against cholera, Europe, 1801-1900

Hung on thread or chains and worn around the neck, the metal amulet shown in the centre of the photograph was worn for protection against cholera. The reverse shows St Roch (1295-1327), a Christian saint. Roch was a Christian pilgrim who was believed to cure people of, and protect against, plague. Once plague was no longer a threat in Europe, St Roch’s protection was transferred to other diseases, such as cholera. Amulets have been worn for thousands of years to protect the wearer from illness, ill fortune and bad luck. It is shown here with two other amulets, which also feature images of St Roch (A677945 and A678713).

Object number:

A677845

 

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    Glossary: amulet

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

    Glossary: plague

    An acute contagious fever with high levels of mortality. Both the 'Black Death' that swept Europe in the 1340s and the Great Plague of London in 1665 are believed to have been bubonic plague.

    Glossary: cholera

    A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.