Manchester Digital Collections

Browse our collections

Gaster Amulets

Gaster Amulets

This collection was acquired from Dr Rabbi Moses Gaster in 1954 together with manuscripts, printed books, and archival material. More information about the Moses Gaster Collection is available here, and the manuscripts from the collection have been digitised as part of the Library's Hebrew Manuscripts Collection.

The Gaster Amulet Collection contains around 270 items of various types: beadwork, metalwork, textile objects, paper and parchment manuscripts, etc. Those that contain text are mostly in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, or Arabic but there are also a few Samaritan and Ethiopian items. There is very little known about their provenance, but some of them are clearly from a non-Jewish context. Though labelled as such, a small minority of the items in this collection are not amulets: there a few liturgical objects (e.g. mezuzot and tefillin), manuscript fragments (kabbalistic texts, magical recipe books, etc), and even weapons included in the collection. Those that are amulets were created for various, mostly protective purposes, especially against the evil eye, and for the protection of newborns and their mothers. Only a fraction of the collection is dated but most items are datable to the early modern period, 17th-19th centuries.

This digital collection contains the vast majority of the Gaster amulets. Most items have been catalogued with the exception of the most fragmentary pieces that were too damaged to identify. Thus, there are some gaps in the Gaster Amulet sequence. The Library has digitised the entire amulet collection, catalogued and uncatalogued, and the images for all items are available in the Hebraica Collection on the Library Digitised Collections platform. More items will be added to Manchester Digital Collections in due course.

Please note, that the transliteration of the Hebrew words in the records follow the transliteration rules of the Library of Congress.