Buttons, Beads & Cowry Shells as Ways to
influence the Unseen Worlds
We have already seen some nazarlik decorated with buttons, beads or
Saul had a few more.
Sometimes such items are almost entirely beaded as is the case for this small Turkish beaded Koran or amulet bag (pic.45)
Here are two more in small bag format (pic.46) - although these are from
Uzbekestan. Pic. 47 shows a detail of the top one. Here we see not only distraction and color usage, but also, the idea of concealment. That which one does not see cannot be cursed.
Such beaded items can also be found amongst the Baluch.
Pic. 48 is of a woman’s head cover, replete with cowry shells, beads and pom
poms. Note, also, the use of old buttons. (This was a gift from Tatiana
Divens). It is decorated heavily with cowry shells, thought to resemble female
This next piece (pic. 49) is from Kurdistan, and was used as a camel side cover. This time shells, beads and buttons are supplemented with some mixed
technique weaving. Pictures 50 and 51 show closer details. Multiple efforts to distract and divert evil, whilst bringing forth good luck are evident here.
The piece in picture 52 is in the bead, button and cowry-shell-decorated
grouping, and comes from Afghanistan (Pushtun?). It has a khorjin shape and is decorated mostly with cowry shells and tassels. Concealment, fertility and distraction are all intended.
The next piece (pic. 53) had a similar khorjin shape, but is from the Baluch
peoples of Afghanistan, and was probably used as a dowry bag.
Note the use of mirrors. Buttons, beads and tassels are used to enhance the protective powers of
the woven patterns. Pic. 54 shows a closer one-half detail. Pic. 55 is a view of the back of this piece.
The plain character of this back suggests that evil is not expected to
approach from this side.
Saul had one more similar piece (pic. 56).
Also from the Baluch peoples, and also probably a dowry bag. Here, the weaving is more visible, but buttons, beads and tassels are used prominently. The back of the bag is shown in pic. 57