Shamrock amulet, United Kingdom, 1914-1918
The carrying of ‘lucky charms’ – as protective amulets against ill health and physical danger – has a long history in many cultures around the world. Shamrocks, especially five-leaved shamrocks, are considered particularly lucky. This tin and copper shamrock has the word “Ypres” engraved on the surface. Ypres is a city in Belgium and focus of some of the most intense fighting throughout the First World War. The shamrock is believed to have been worn by a British soldier fighting in the trenches. The amulet was bought for the Wellcome collection in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms. Lovett was a collector who documented different medical traditions and beliefs.
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Glossary: traditional medicine
Used in the West for sets of health beliefs and practices that developed within the culture of a particular ethnic or geographic group of people, distinct from modern Western medicine. Commonly includes herbal and homeopathic remedies, religious or spiritual ritual, and an holistic approach to patients.
Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.