SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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All Levels Amulets, Milagros, and Ex-Votos Above: Amulets from Morocco, Mali, and Niger, Girard Collection, Museum of International Folk Art (DCA) Santa Fe, NM. A. 1981.42.702V.1. Photo by Paul Smutko. Aurelia Gomez T iny metal objects, some reprerealm, they are an integral part of the sentational, showing body parts folk medical systems in Mexico and Latin or saints; others abstract or symAmerica. bolic, are powerful items in spite of their diminutive size. These are amuPeru lets, milagros, and ex-votos and they repAmulets in Peru are used to promote resent a pathway to the supernatural for agricultural production and as part of peoples all over the globe. Part of folk and animal husbandry rites. Ritual stone traditional religious practices, amulets objects called illas, illa-chacras, and are used to ward off evil forces and attract mesas are used by people in the Quechua positive influences. and Aymara region Ex-votos or milaof the South Andes. Part of folk and traditional gros (milagro means Illa-chacras are used religious practices, amulets are in branding ceremomiracle in Spanish) or tamata in Greece, used to ward off evil forces and nies, while the illas attract positive influences. are used as offerings and mesas are utito make specific lized in healing rites requests for divine intervention as well as and agricultural ceremonies. Sometimes to give thanks for prayers that have been they are buried, included with an object answered. These portable icons can also that is burned, or placed in a ritual bundle. be seen as folk art objects. Understanding The motifs that appear on the illas and how they are used offers insight into the mesas are abstract, representing a symway people from different cultures perbolic language. ceive the world. Morocco Mexico Muslims use amulets for protection and The term ex-voto means to take a vow talismans to deal with a specific matter or "according to a promise." Ex-votos for a limited time period. Writing is incorin Mexico are devotional objects of the porated to invoke magic and to animate working classes and are sold at churches, prayers. Small boxes, like envelopes, hold chapels, and sanctuaries. Often representwritten talismans, sometimes made of ing parts of the body, they are attached metal or animal, vegetal, or mineral mateto the clothing of statues of saints. While rials. these charm-like objects are becoming One popular amulet form is the hand, more popular outside of the religious often appearing with an eye on the palm. 42 December 2008 SchoolArts

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