This necklace is from Egypt. It has a label which reads ‘Modern Egyptian eye beads: worn to avert the ‘evil eye’.’ The beads are blue with white and black spots which resemble eyes.
The concept of the ‘evil eye’ has been common to many cultures, particularly across the Mediterranean and Middle East. It centres on the belief that a malevolent look or expression can be used to cause suffering or misfortune to another person. Talismans such as this necklace are thought to protect the wearer from its ill effects, and are a common item made for the tourist trade in many countries.
This object was donated by Beatrice Braithwaite-Batty (1833-1933). She travelled to India in 1860 with her missionary husband as part of the Church Missionary Society. She travelled extensively and donated objects to Reading Museum, Pitt Rivers and the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum in Cambridge.
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