The Magic of Jewels and Charms
The Curious Lore of Precious Stones
By George Fedrick Kunz
Amulets: Ancient, Medieval and Oriental
THE present and the following chapter are devoted to a study of the talismanic virtues attributed to precious stones
and gems, as distinguished from the curative powers with which they were credited. It is sometimes difficult to
establish a hard and fast dividing line between the two classes, as everything that conduces to the happiness and
well-being of man also affects his bodily health, but a distinction, correct in the main, may be made by regarding the
talismanic use as covering all cases except those in which the stone was used where to-day some really medicinal
substance would be administered.
A modern German writer on amulets has proposed to apply the term "emanism" (Emanismus) to the virtue ex-
isting or supposed to exist in amulets and talismans, and gives as his opinion that their virtue is neither a spiritual
nor a personal one, but the operation of forces, the latter not being special, mysterious vital forces, but impersonal physical components and qualities, and that these exercise their influence by means of emanation. Wundt has held
that the very earliest amuletsi were parts of the human body, and almost always such parts as were believed to be
the bearers of the soul.1
Radiation or emanation of energy, without observable loss of substance, is a fact familiar enough to us to-day, but
this phenomenon was not so generally accepted centuries ago. Still the lodestone always offered a striking example
1 Karutz, "Der Emanismus," in Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie, 45th Jahrgang, 1913, Heft III, Berlin, 1913, pp. 559, 560.
with which all writers on such subjects were acquainted. A stranger argument in support of the truth of this property
was adduced by the seventeenth century physician, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682) , who writes: 2
If amulets do work by emanation from their bodies upon those parts whereunto they are appended and are not yet observed to abate their weight; if they produce visible and real effects by imponderous and invisible emissions,
it may be unjust to deny all efficacy to gold, in the non-emission of weight or deperdition of any ponderous articles.
While the learned doctor does not expressly state his belief in these ''imponderous and invisible emissions'' from
amulets, he certainly does not attempt to deny their existence.
The Bolivian natives believe that the so-called mountain-sickness, the affection from which some travellers suffer
at high altitudes, probably originates in subtle emanations from certain mineral veins. A confirmation of the fact
that such a belief exists, though not of the truth of the theory, is found in the native name for this illness, veta, which
signifies at once "mountain-sickness" and a vein or lode. The fact that at the pass of Livichuco, on the trail from Challapata to Sucre, there are considerable deposits of antimony, is regarded as substantiating this strange fancy.3
Among the Babylonians one of the most dreaded of the malign spiritual powers was the terrible female demon
Labastu, and a long series of amulets are recommended, one or more of which should be worn to ward off her
pernicious influence. For some of these amulets precious stones were used, and the effect of color, probably a determining circumstance in the selection of the particular stone, was to be strengthened by the color of the
wrapping about the stone
2 Browne, "Pseudodoxia Epidemica," London, 1650, Bk. II, chap. 5, p. 65.
3 Scientific American, June 28, 1913, p. 575.
and of the cord by means of which it was to be hung from the neck, or attached to the right or left hand or foot, or
Other parts of the body. As this dreadful spirit was chiefly feared as the inducer of disease, the location of the
amulet was perhaps in some cases determined by the presence of local pain or disorder; in this case it would be expected to act as a cure of disease rather than a mere preventive. The following passages refer to such stone
Thou shalt wrap up a shubu-stone in white wool, and hang it on a white woollen cord, with four eye-stones (enati)
and four pare, and bind it to thy right hand.
A black ka-stone shalt thou enwrap in black wool, hang it on a black woollen cord, provide it with three eye-stones
and three pare, and bind it to thy left hand.
Thou shalt wrap a white ka-stone in red wool, hang it on a red woollen cord, with four eye-stones and four pare,
and bind it to the right foot.
An appu-stone shalt thou wrap up in blue wool, hang it on a blue woollen cord, furnish it with three eye-stones and
three pare, and bind it to the left foot.
Seven eye-stones and seven pare shalt thou string on a black cord.
The enati (eye-stones) here mentioned were most probably eye-agates similar to those still prized in the
Mesapotamian region for their supposed magical virtues, and more especially for protection against the Evil Eye. There is, indeed, a bare possibility that some form of the cat's-eye (known by that name to the Arabs) or one of
the star-stones may occasionally be signified by this Assyrian name. The word pare, as it is not preceded by the determinative character signifying stone, may refer to some other material.
An immediate association of an animal eye with a turquoise, an example of the sympathetic magic to which we
have frequently alluded, comes from Persia. During the celebration of the imposing ceremonies attending the great
4 Morris Jastrow, Jr., "Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens," vol. i, Giessen, 1905, pp. 335-339.
annual assemblage of pilgrims at the shrine of Mecca, it is customary to slaughter an immense number of sheep,
and certain of the Persian pilgrims will secure possession of some of the eyes of their sacrificial victims, and will
embed turquoises in them, firmly believing that in this way they have composed an infallible amulet against the
A Persian manuscript of a work entitled "Nozhat Namah Ellaiy," written in the eleventh century by Schem Eddin,
the transcription being dated 1304, asserts that the turquoise (piruzeh), though lacking in brilliancy, was esteemed
to be a stone of good omen, and one that would bring good luck, since this was indicated by its name, signifying
in Persian, "the Victorious."5
One of the Egyptian tales from the time of the early dynasties shows the value placed upon the turquoise in Egypt
at that time. This recital occurs in Baufra's Tale.
The reigning Pharaoh, to relieve a fit of mental depression, took a pleasure trip on the palace lake in a boat rowed
by twenty beautiful and richly attired maidens. While bending over her oar, one of the maidens let fall into the water from her hair-adornment a fine turquoise (Egypt mafkat, thus rendered by Petrie) and was deeply chagrined
at the loss.
However, the court magician Zazamankh, who accompanied the sovereign, by his magic arts was able to provide
a remedy, for on his reciting a charm of great power the turquoise rose up through the water so that it could be
picked up from the surface and returned to its disconsolate owner,5A
The Egyptians believed that the different kinds of pre-
4a Pogue, "The Turquois," Washington, 1915, citing an article by Sikes, in "Folklore," vol. xii, p. 268, London,
5 "Cited by Joseph E. Pogue, in "The .Turquois"; Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. xii, pt. ii.
Third Memoir, Washington, 1915, p. 13. From Ouseley, " Travels in Various Countries of the East, more
Particularly Persia," London, 1819, vol. i, pp. 210-212.
5A Pogue, "The Turquois," Washington, 1915, citing Petrie "Egyptian Tales, First Series, Fourth to Twelfth
Dynasty," London, 1895, pp. 16-22.
cious stones were endowed with certain special talismanic properties, and these stones were combined in their
necklaces in a way supposed to afford protection from all manner of malign influences. The beads were of various forms, sometimes round or oval, and at others, rectangular or oblong; besides the stones in general use, such as
the emerald, carnelian, agate, lapis lazuli, amethyst, rock-crystal, beryl, jasper and garnet, beads of gold, silver,
glass, faience, and even of clay and straw, were employed. To complete the efficacy of the necklace, small images
of the gods and of the sacred animals were added as pendants. Even on the mummies and mummy cases such ornaments are painted in imitation of necklaces or collars of precious stones, with flowers, etc., as pendants.6
One of the most artistic and beautiful specimens of ancient Egyptian goldsmiths' work was recently sent by Dr.
Flinders Petrie, on behalf of the Egyptian Research Account Society, to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It is
adorned with amethysts set in gold, the stones with their symbolic settings constituting a charm of powerful
amulets for the protection of the wearer, who is believed to have been the Princess Sat-Hathor-Ant, of the Twelfth Dynasty, the wife of the heir to the throne. Dr. Petrie pronounces this to be one of the finest ancient Egyptian
necklaces he has ever seen.
This splendid ornament came from tomb No. 154 at Haragh. It measures 26.3 inches in length and is composed of
88 amethyst beads varying in length from nearly a quarter-inch to about four-tenths of an inch (0.6 cm. to 1 cm.)
and in diameter from a little over a quarter-inch to over four-tenths of an inch (0.7 cm. to 1.1 cm.). The beads are
slightly flattened and the borings were made from both ends, meeting accurately in the centre in the majority of
6 Budge, "The Mummy," Cambridge, 1894, pp. 330-331.
eases. In spite of small surface scars, they are generally of very clear and even color.6A
(Special chapters from the great Egyptian collection of hymns and invocations known as the "Book of the Dead"
were inscribed on certain particular stones, as in the following instances:
Chapter XXVI of the Book of the Dead to be inscribed on, or recited over, a figure in lapis lazuli.7
Chapter whereby the Heart is given to a person in the Netherworld.
He saith: Heart mine to me, in the place of Hearts! Whole Heart mine to me, in the place of Whole Hearts!
Let me have my Heart that it may rest within me; but I shall feed upon the food of Osiris, on the eastern side of
the mead of amaranthine flowers.
Be mine a bark for descending the stream and another for ascending.
I go down into the bark where thou art.
Be there given to me my mouth wherewith to speak, and my feet for walking; and let me have my arms wherewith
to overthrow my adversaries.
Let two hands from the Earth open my mouth: Let Seb, the Erpa of the gods, part my two jaws; let him open my
two eyes which are closed, and give motion to my two hands which are powerless; and let Anubis give vigor to my
legs that I may raise myself upon them.
And may Sechit the divine one lift me up, so that I may arise in Heaven and issue my behest in Memphis.
I am in possession of my Heart, I am in possession of my Whole Heart, I am in possession of my arms and I have possession of my legs.
[I do whatsoever my Genius willeth, and my Soul is not bound to my body at the gates of Amenta.]
Chapter XXVII of the Book of the Dead to be inscribed on, or recited over, a figure in green feldspar.7A
Chapter whereby the Heart of a person is not taken from him in the Netherworld.
6A Communicated by Dr. Arthur Fairbanks, Director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
7 Life Work of Sir Peter Le Page Renouf," vol. vi, Paris, 1907.
7A "The Life Work of Sir Peter Le Page Eenouf," vol. iv, Paris, 1907, p. 71.
ye gods who seize upon Hearts, and who pluck out the Whole Heart; and whose hands fashion anew the Heart of
a person according to what he hath done; lo now, let that be forgiven to him by you.
Hail to you, ye Lords of Everlasting Time and Eternity!
Let not my Heart be torn from me by your fingers.
Let not my Heart be fashioned anew according to all the evil things said against me.
For this Heart of mine is the Heart of the god of mighty names [Thoth], of the great god whose words are in his members, and who giveth free course to his Heart which is within him.
And most keen of insight is his heart among the gods. Ho to me!
Heart of mine: I am in possession of thee, I am thy master, and thou art by me; fall not away from me; I am the
dictator to whom thou shalt obey in the Netherworld.
Were there sufficient evidence as to the use of jade by the ancient Egyptians, we might be justified in finding an
allusion to this substance in the 160th chapter of the Book of the Dead. This chapter was to be inscribed upon a
small column made of a green stone (Renouf translates "green feldspar"), as appears in the text, which reads, in
part, as follows:
1 am the column of green feldspar which cannot be crushed, and which is raised by the hand of Thoth.
Injury is an abomination for it. If it is safe, I am safe; if it is not injured, I am not injured; if it receives no cut, I
receive no cut.
Said by Thoth: arise, come in peace, lord of Heliopolis, lord who resides at Pu.
The text is accompanied by a vignette in which Thoth is represented bringing the column enclosed in a box or
casket. This is one of the forms of the neshem-stone, a name used in Egyptian as widely and vaguely as was
smaragdus in Latin. One thing is, however, quite evident, the material designated here must have been of
exceptional hardness and toughness, for the special virtue of the column-amulet was to make the body as hard and indestructible as itself. Inci-
dentally we may recall that the hermetic work of Thoth, named by the later Greeks Trismegistos, the Thrice
Mighty One, which was said to have been unearthed in a tomb, was inscribed upon smaragdus.
The larger part of the amulets used in ancient Egypt represented some living creature. The most usual type is the
bull's head, which was cut from carnelian, hematite, amazon stone, lapis lazuli, or quartz. Prehistoric Egyptian
amulets representing the fly have been found; these were of slate, lapis lazuli and serpentine. In historic times
gold was employed as the material. Other types occurring in prehistoric times are the hawk, of quartz or limestone;
the serpent, of lapis lazuli or limestone; the crocodile and the frog.
Carnelian was freely used as the material for amulets in the earlier historic times, among the prevailing forms
were the hand, the fist, and the eye; amulets figuring the lion, the jackal-head, the frog, and the bee, also appear.
Silver or electrum was substituted for carnelian in the Middle Kingdom. At a later period amulets were used less and less frequently.8
The mysterious virtues of the scarab are not yet forgotten in the East, in Syria at least, for we are told that this
beetle is an object of much veneration among the Syrian peasants as an amulet. One use of it in this way is to
enclose a specimen in a box and lay this upon the breast of a babe in its cradle as a sure protection against the
greatly-dreaded Evil Eye. There is also a superstition in this region that if a "scarab" is found lying helplessly on
its back, anyone who charitably relieves it of its embarrassment by setting it on its feet, will be relieved of the guilt
of a number of sins.9
8 Flinders Petrie, "The Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt," Edinburgh and London, 1909, p. 79.
9 Carlo Landberg, "Proverbes et dictons de la province de Syrie, Section de Sayda," Leyden, 1883, pp. 313, 314.
It is difficult to see any other origin for the scaraboid, or imperfect scarab form, than that afforded by the Egyptian
scarabs, some of which date back to about 4000 b.c. Whether we can literally say that the scaraboid was introduced
into Babylon by the Egyptians may be open to question, as the form itself appears to have been evolved by
Etruscans and Greeks. Unquestionably the scaraboid was much more easily shaped than the scarab proper, and for those traders who wished large supplies for commercial purposes at a low cost, this was by no means a negligible quality.
The evolution of the ring from the cylindrical seal is of course purely a matter of conjecture. Here, as is often the
case in a chain or series of fossil remains, we have a succession of types which may be connected with one another
genetically, but which must not be so connected. That is to say, we cannot prove the affirmative and can only point
to a probability.
Many cut and engraved stones, some of which had evidently been used as talismans, have been washed up on the
shore at Alexandria, Egypt. Not all of these are completed, some being only half worked, as though the engraver
had become dissatisfied with his design, or had found a flaw in the material, or that they had been lost from boats
or ships. It has been conjectured that these half-completed gems were the work of household jewellers employed
in the palaces of Alexandria.20 In Mas'udi's "Meadows of Gold" we read that in his time, in the tenth century a.d., there was what he terms "a fishery for precious stones" on the seacoast near Alexandria, Egypt. To account for
this he relates two bits
20 Oskar Schneider, " Ueber Anschwemmung von antlken Arbeitsmaterial an der Alexandriner Kuste," in
"Naturwissenschaftliche Beitrage zur Geographie und Kulturgeschichte," Dresden, 1883, pp. 4, 5, 6. 21
of legend. One of them represents these fragments of precious stones as having originally adorned the richly
decorated vases and vessels of Alexander the Great, which were broken up and cast into the sea by Alexander's mother after his death. The other tale was to the effect that Alexander himself had gathered together a mass of
jewels and ordered them to be thrown into the sea near the Pharos, so that its neighborhood should never be
deserted; for, Mas'udi remarks, wherever precious stones are to be found, whether in mines or in the depths of the
sea, men are sure to assemble to seek for them.11
The prophet Isaiah in his third chapter, where he scores the wantonness and vanity of the Daughters of Zion
(vs. 16-26) , enumerates in detail the various adornments of a Hebrew mondaine toward the end of the eighth
century before Christ.
Among the jewels and trinkets, amulets (lehashim; v. 20) are expressly mentioned, and also "crescents," these
being probably of gold. While it is not possible to determine the material of the amulets, the fact that they are
named together with rich ornaments of various kinds, rings, nose-jewels, bracelets, anklets, etc., indicates that
they were of precious material, and were possibly engraved precious stones or seals of some sort.12 In the Song
of Songs, which can scarcely be assigned to a later date than Isaiah, and may have been written earlier, the seal
is named in what is perhaps the most beautiful passage of this unique poem.
Chapter VII, verse 6:
11 Macoudi, "Les Prairies d'Or,'' text and French trans, by Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, vol. ii,
Paris, 1863, pp. 436, 437, chap, xxxii.
12 Gesenius in his Hebrew Dictionary even conjectures that the lehashim may have been shells, which when held
to the ear gave forth sounds believed to have an ominous significance.
Set me as a seal upon thine heart;
as a seal upon thine arm.
For love is strong as death;
passion is unyielding as Hades,
The flashes thereof are flashes of fire;
an all-consuming flame.
The golden "crescents" were used as amulets by the Midianites for suspension on the necks of their camels, at
the period of the Hebrew conquest of Canaan, as appears from the eighth chapter of Judges (v. 21).
The burying in a grave of valuable gems and ornaments worn by the deceased during life, must have been originally
due to a belief that they served as talismans to guard the remains from the malign influence of evil spirits, or
perhaps even to afford protection and aid, by some strange occult power, to the soul of the departed in the under or upperworld whither it had journeyed. In the New World, among the more highly civilized and wealthy Indian tribes
of the south, this custom was very general, and rich spoils have been taken from their graves by the unsentimental settlers from Europe. In the Old World also this usage was quite common; Egyptian tombs have afforded jewels
of gold and gems worth large sums intrinsically, apart from their archaeological value, and only to note one among
many instances, we may recall the treasures unearthed by the indefatigable Schliemann in the old Greek tombs
However, of all these finds none surpasses in interest that made by M. Henry de Morgan near Susa on February
10, 1901, when there was brought to light, from a depth of some six metres below the surface, a bronze sarcophagus containing the skeleton of a woman. Heaped upon the breast of the skeleton and strewn about the head and neck
was a mass of finely-wrought and artistic gems and jewels, including several detached amulets. From coins found
in the burial and also from the general character of these relics, M. de Morgan
believes that the interment must have been made at some date between 350 and 330 B.C., just before Alexander's
invasion of Persia.12
The jewels embrace a beautiful gold torque weighing 385 grams (something over one pound Troy). The hoop
terminates in two lions' heads having cheeks of turquoise, while on the muzzle is a lapis lazuli flanked by two
turquoises; on the top of the head is a plate of mother-of-pearl. Bracelets similar in design and decoration to the
torque go to complete the parure. Of even greater interest than the gold torque was a three-row pearl necklace,
238 of the pearls being still more or less well preserved ; originally there must have been from 400 to 500 of them.
Still another valuable necklace consists of 400 beads of precious or ornamental stone material and 400 gold beads.
The stones represented are turquoise, lapis lazuli, emerald, agate, various jaspers, red and blond camelian,
feldspar, jade (?), hyaline and milky quartz, amethyst of a pale violet hue, hematite, several marbles and breccia.
A fourth necklace had a row of beads and pendants incrusted with camelian, lapis lazuli and turquoise; here the
sharp contrast of the bright red carnelian disturbs the harmonious effect produced by the combination of the dark
blue lapis lazuli and the light blue turquoise.
The detached amulets are of various forms, one figuring a sphinx with a ram's head; this was in white paste with
green enamel. Another, of gold, was rudely fashioned in the form of a lion or a cat, and there was also a dove of
lapis lazuli, poorly executed, the amulets (mainly of Egyptian type) being of very inferior workmanship as
compared with the jewels. Still they serve to confirm the belief that this heaping up in the tomb of all the dearest treasures cherished
12 Delegation en Perse, vol. viii, Recherches Archgoligiques 3 eme Serie, Paris, 1905, pp. 36-58.
in life, was intended to exert a post-mortem influence upon the after-life of the dead woman.
That some of the Hebrew patriots who fought under the banner of Judas Maccabseus toward the middle of the
second century b.c. were tinged with the prevailing superstition regarding amulets, appears in a passage of the
second book of Maccabees, where it is stated that when Judas collected together for burial the bodies of those
patriots who had fallen in battle before Odolla, they were found to have worn beneath their tunics certain idolatrous amulets, a custom strictly forbidden to the Jews. Their death was then looked upon as a signal instance of divine
justice, which "had made hidden things manifest," and Judas exhorted the people to take this lesson to heart and
guard themselves from sin.
The wealth of books on magic and divination produced in the ancient city of Ephesus, in Asia Minor, was so great
that the designation "Ephesian writings" was quite generally given to writings of this kind, more especially to
denote short texts that could be worn as amulets or charms. We read in the Acts of the Apostles (xix, 19) that after hearing the fervent discourses of St. Paul, in which he eloquently attacked the superstitions of the Ephesians,
many of those who owned books of this description were so deeply moved that they burned up all such books in
their possession, to the value of 50,000 pieces of silver, that is to say $9000, equivalent perhaps to $90,000, if we
make due allowance for the greater purchasing power of money nearly two thousand years ago. The small literary
value of the writings of this sort that have been preserved for us indicates that the loss to posterity by this
auto-da-fe was not very considerable, and yet many queer superstitions and strange usages of which we now lack information must have been noted in these magic rolls and sheets.
The following lines may serve to show how highly the
jasper was esteemed in ancient times, this designation covering jade as well: 14
Auro, quid melius? Jaspis. Quid Jaspite? Virtus. Quid virtute?
Deus. Quid deitate? Nihil.
What is better than Gold? Jasper.
What is better than Jasper? Virtue.
What is better than Virtue? God.
What is better than the deity? Nothing.
The first mention of the famous charm Abracadabra, which so often appears engraved on G-nostic gems, occurs
in a Latin medical poem written by Serenus Sammonicus who lived in the third century and is said to have
bequeathed his library consisting of sixty-two thousand volumes to the Emperor Gordian the Younger. The poem recommends this mystic word, or name, as a sovereign remedy for the ''demitertian" fever, if it were written on a
piece of paper and suspended by a linen thread from the neck of the patient.
To have its full eifieacy the word should be written as many times as there are letters in it, but taking away one
letter each time, so that the inscription assumed the form of an inverted cone.15
It is interesting to note that De Foe, writing in the seventeenth century of the Great Plague in London (1665),
alludes to this strange talisman as still in use.16 " Treating of the curious prophylactics employed at that time, he
reproaches those who employed such methods, and acted ''as if the plague was not the hand of God, but a kind of possession of an evil spirit, and that it was to be kept off with crossings, signs of the zodiac, papers tied up with so
14 Curieuse Kunst und Werck-Sehul," Niimberg, 1705, p. 994.
15 Preceptes Medicaux de Serenus Sammonicus, text and trans, by L. Baudet, Paris, 1845, pp. 74-77.
16 De Foe, "A Journal of the Plague Year," London, 1895, p. 38 (vol. ix of Works ed. by Aitken).
knots, and certain words or figures, as particularly tlie word
Abracadabra formed in triangle or pyramid, thus :
A B R A C A D
A B R A C A
A B R AC
A B R A
A B R
A curious cbarm which was extensively used as an amulet in medieval times consists of five Latin words so
arranged that they can be read backwards or forwards and also up- wards or downwards. The disposition of the
letters is as follows:
s a t o r
a r e p o
t e n e t
o p e r a
r o t a s
This charm has been preserved for us in Greek and Coptic as well as in Roman characters, and examples of it
have been found cut in a marble slab above the chapel of St. Laurent at Eochemaur (Ardeche), France, and also
in the plaster wall of an old Roman house at Cirncester, Gloucestershire, England. In a Greek manuscript in the Bibliotheque
Nationale, in Paris,17 the Latin words are transliterated and translated as follows:
aarop, the sower
opero, the plough
17 Ms. Gr. No. 2411, fol. 60. See C. Werscher, Bull, de la Soo. Nat. dea antiq. de la France, 1874, vol. xxxv, pp.
Another and more ingenious explanation of this puzzle has, however, been given.18 Beginning with the last word
"rotas," and taking the other words in their order, it is proposed to read as follows: "The plough-wheels (rotas),
the laborer (opera), holds (tenet), creep after him (arepo),
I, the sower (sator)." The chief defect in this version appears to be the assumption that "opera" can be rendered
"laborer," an interpretation which is, at best, supported by a doubtful use of the word in that sense by Horace.
This charm appears in an Italian manuscript of the fourteenth century,19 where it is recommended to be used for
the assurance of a speedy delivery.
Touching the wonderful and mystic power attributed to the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet by the Gnostics,
C. W. King cites the following words from the Pistis Sophia of Valentinus: 20
Nothing therefore is more excellent than the mysteries which ye seek after, saving only the mystery of the Seven Vowels and their forty and nine Powers, and the Numbers thereof. And no name is more excellent than all these [Vowels], a Name wherein be contained all Names and all Lights and all Powers.
The last sentence probably refers to the arrangement of these vowels often met with in inscribed Gnostic talismans,
the so-called Abraxas gems. Here we often find them in the following order I E H a o Y A, and the sound of these
vowels really suggests the conventional pronunciation of the Hebrew name Jehovah (yehowah). The words quoted
from the Pistis Sophia are placed in the mouth of Jesus, and King calls attention to the fact that in Greek the same
word is used for voice and vowel He therefore believes that
18 King, "Early Christian Numismatics," London, 1873, p. 187.
19 In the author's library.
20 King, "Early Christian Numismatics," London, 1873, pp. 229, 230.
the passage in Revelations (x, 3-4): "The seven thunders tittered their voices," signifies that the sound of the
seven vowels "echoed through the vault of heaven, and composed that mystic utterance which the sainted seer
was forbidden to reveal unto mortals."
Certain talismans were supposed to afford protection not only to individuals but even to entire cities. Of this class
were two talismans described by Gregory of Tours.
He relates that Paris had enjoyed from ancient times a surprising immunity from serpents and rats, as well as from
fires. However, in clearing out the channel beneath a bridge across the Seine, the workmen found, embedded in
the mud, two brazen images, one of a serpent and the other of a rat; after these had been removed from their
resting place, serpents and rats appeared, and conflagrations became common. 22
Of the many memorials of the Age of Charlemagne preserved in the Cathedral Treasury at Aachen, that popularly
known as the Talisman of Charlemagne always exerted a peculiar fascination over the minds of those visiting the
shrine, both because of its sacred character and on account of the mystic power ascribed to it.
The "Talisman" is composed of two large sapphires, cut en cabochon, one being of oval form and the other square,
these constituting respectively the front and back of the relic; enclosed between them is a cross made from wood
of the Holy Cross said to have been found in Palestine by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. This is
only visible when looking through the oval sapphire set in front of the medallion. The two sapphires are joined and framed by a band studded with precious stones, and various other gems are set above and below them. The oval sapphire is of
22 Gregorii Episcopi Turonensis, "Historia Francorum," ed. Arndt, and Krusch, Pars I, Hannoverae, 1884, p. 349,
lib. viii, cap. 33.
a pale blue, and is furnished with a gold openwork bordering.
At the top of the medallion, in a square space is set a lozenge-shaped garnet, and around the oval sapphire forming
the front are placed successively, (1) an emerald, (2) a pearl, (3) a garnet, (4) a pearl, (5) an emerald, (6) a pearl,
(7) a garnet, (8) a pearl, (9) an emerald, (10) a pearl, (11) a garnet, (12) a pearl, (13) an emerald, (14) a pearl,
(15) a garnet, (16) a pearl.
The square sapphire at the back of the medallion is of poor quality and imperfect color; about it are sixteen
settings, containing respectively, (1) (lacking), (2) a pearl, (3) a garnet, (4) a pearl, (5) an emerald, (6) a pearl,
(7) a garnet, (8) a pearl, (9) an emerald, (10) a pearl, (11) a garnet, (12) a pearl, (13) an emerald, (14) a pearl,
(15) a garnet, (16) a pearl.
On the band are set the following stones: (1) a pearl, (2) a sapphire, (3). a pearl, (4) an amethyst, (5) a pearl,
(6) a sapphire, (7) a pearl, (8) an amethyst, (9) a pearl, (10) an almost white sapphire, (11) a pearl,
(12) an amethyst, (13) a pearl, (14) a white sapphire.
In the summer of 1804, Empress Josephihe went to Aixla-Chapelle (Aachen) to take the waters there, and during
her stay, on August 1, she visited the tomb of Charlemagne in the Cathedral. We are told that Napoleon, who
joined Josephine at Aix-le-Chapelle on September 3, had already authorised the Cathedral chapter to part with
certain of the relics and bestow them upon Josephine at the time of her visit to the tomb. This authorization, of
course, was only a polite equivalent for a command, and was duly carried out, the most prized object secured by Josephine being precisely this famed talisman. It eventually came into the hands of Hortense, Josephine's
daughter, the mother of Napoleon III, and was inherited by him. It is said to be now in a