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Turtle amulet, United States, 1880-1920

In many Native American belief systems, turtles protected against ‘women's diseases’ and were symbols of fertilty. The amulet is made from leather and decorated with beads. It was worn by girls until they reached puberty to ward off illness. It is believed to have been made by the Sioux people of the Great Plains, in North America. When a child was born, the grandmother would traditionally make an amulet in the shape of a turtle. A piece of the baby's umbilical cord would be kept inside this amulet, and if the ritual was followed and the child kept the amulet, it was believed that it would provide protection against illness and ensure a long life.

Object number:

A47761

 

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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: indigenious beliefs

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