Request For Help Identifying A Talisman

A

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Okay, picked up a curio at the weekend from a Bric-a-Brac shop and it struck me as odd enough to merit comment. Before I describe it, no I don't think I have stumbled upon a lost artefact of an ancient civilisation, yes I do think it probably is a souvenier sold to a gullible or simply aesthetically odd tourist. No I am not expecting purple robed cultists of the Elder Gods to cart me off for ritual shennanigans.

Right, now thats out of the way, what I am asking is not if someone can identify the talisman itself but if someone can identify the culture it came from, by the symbols upon it.

The talisman itself is about the length 3 inches long by 2 inches wide with a thickness of about 0.5 centimetres. It is roughly teardrop shaped and made of a weighty metal. We think the metal or alloy has some copper in it because of the greenish residue (oxidisation). On one face of the talisman is an octopus with its tentacles spread but curled(yes I know that will raise your incredulity, but no, it doesn't look like cthulhu) that dominates the most of that side, whilst above it is a coencentric star, small and at the peak of the teardrop. My first impressions are that it would thus not come from a land-locked country, but a culture where fishing is important.

On the reverse side is what I can only describe as a babylonian/asian styled woman. She is stood bare-chested, with her arms outstretched, clutching a snake in each hand. Her hair is long, but fashioned upwards and a curly lock of hair frames each side of her face. She is wearing a long, A-shaped segmented dress, constructed of horizontal, stepped bars, that conceals her feet and legs. beneath her outstretched arms are coencentric coils on either side.

There you go, best description I can give. I've got a few ideas but I thought I would through it open to the sum of your knowledge and see what I got back.

No I am not expecting anything, other than for it to be fairly mundane, but my curiosity is peaked and I'm interested in finding out if any tourists among you have come across where it might have originated from.

Of course it could simply be some esoterically minded art students project! :)
 

Jerry_B

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I once found a very small figurine of the same woman in a charity shop. AFAIK, it's a souvenir from somehwere like Crete (?).
 

phi23

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Yes, sounds decidedly Greek to me. Especially the style of dress. Now then which Greek godess could it be?
 
A

Anonymous

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Certainly sounds eastern Mediterranean, and I would say Crete sounds about right. The description of the woman certainly sounds like an image I've seen, and the octopus image also sounds familiar. I just wish I could remember where I've seen them or could readily find them on the web to link to so you could compare!

Found a link to a statue of a Cretan snake goddess figure!
http://www.costumes.org/history/greece/kohler/colorplate1.jpg

Is that the right look?
 
A

Anonymous

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Both the snake goddess and the octopus were featured in Minoan art. So what you have is probably some tourist tat from Crete.
This page has some examples of Minoan art and jewellery.
 
A

Anonymous

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Yep, thats her!

Any names/further info on her?

And anything relevant about the octopus/star, other than the obvious fishing/nautical culture?

Thank you all for the help on this one, its appreciated! :)
 

phi23

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She appears to be the Mother Goddess - the cthonian snake goddess - could the star be a star fish?
 

AlistairP3

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The octopus logo sounds like the logo on Blofeld's ring in the James Bond films, which in itself was, I think, based on a Mafia insignia.
 
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Because of the elevation on the design I had assumed it was an actual star. The nautical siginificance being the navigational importance of stars, and it being linked in with the sea in that manner.

Hadn't thought about the possibility of it being a starfish. The design didn't suggest it, although it could be I guess.
 

JamesWhitehead

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Fertility Goddesses caried snakes as attributes. I have a couple of
pictures in front of me of figures from the palace of Knossos. Often
the Goddesses have no names but Demeter is often depicted with
snakes, sheaves of corn and poppies.

The octopus has many eyes and I think it is a common symbol to
ward off the Evil Eye. I have a whole book on the Evil Eye but it
is behind a pile of other stuff at the moment.

Anyway, I would guess your find is a lucky charm to ward off evil and
increase fertility. Very nice, if the fertility is wanted. ;)
 

Quetzelcoatl

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the octopus could be the Giant Squid which appears everywhere from Norse legend down to the equator.

the dressed but bare chested woman sounds like something from Crete (Knossos rings a bell) but cant help with a name.

cant help with the star, except to say stars often appear on sailors talismans?

it could be tourist tat (which I know from experience can look alarmingly real when its rusted / oxidised for a couple of years) or it could be the real deal.

suggest your local museum might be able to help with dating?
 

Breakfastologist

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I realise you're not expecting any robed cultists of the elder gods to come and kidnap you, but the talisman of the cthonian snake goddess sounds like just the thing they would love.
 

JamesWhitehead

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Since writing the above, I have dug out the book on the Evil Eye.
And very interesting it is too, written by one Frederick Thomas Elworthy,
antiquarian and Freemason in 1895. Mine's a cheap modern reprint alas.

But I was wrong about the octopus being a common image to ward off
the Evil Eye - it isn't mentioned. The Medusa's Head is probably the design
I was thinking of.

The octopus features on ornaments excavated by Schliemann at Mycenae
in 1876, which seems to have been when scholars began to see it as
the inspiration of the Hydra.

I am sure I have seen a medallion type of octopus illustration somewhere.
But so far it has resisted capture. :confused:
 

rynner2

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Buy amulets and stuff here - including Snake Goddess and an Octopus!


This page suggests that the star Alphecca (Alpha Corona Borealis) is associated with Ariadne and hence Crete. (Towards the bottom of the page)

It links to this page, with even more (probably irrelevent) info on Corona Borealis!
 

rynner2

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Corona Borealis
 

James_H

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Am I missing something here?
 

Ermintruder

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Something we are missing (well, maybe not personally, but, certainly from recent editions of FT magazine) are those curious pre-contemporary advertisments for talismans (or is the plural word talismens? Unsure....).

There was something especially-odd yet not-entirely-dismissable about these latter-day pot-metal pendants ads. Remember them?


Did anyone here ever invest in one? To what outcome?

It would appear that Alchemy England (founded in anno domini 19-hundred-and-seventy-seven) has still got the right formula to celebrate it's 40th birthday this year....mind you, with all those talismans/talismen in stock, they can only ever be said to have luck on their side...


So come on, let's be having you... do you, now....or, have you ever, might you ever....have high-hopes from a particular purchased (purloined?) peculiar personal pendant?

Had any hang-ups, caused or cured by a dangerous dangler?

Cruciform ornamentation is, of course, inclusively-unexcluded from this mental metametal melange. Amulets, bangles, baubles and rings are also germane to this encirclement. But not wands. Obviously.

EDIT I can't seem to find the FT 'Prana Pendant' as a current item on the EA website. Sold out, sublimated, substituted...not sure.

EDIT2 Umm....in that original advert...do they really spell 'talisman' as "Tatalisman"?

EDIT3 I could so easily fall victim to the value of having that vicious voodoo pendant....
 
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Ulalume

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Ermintrude - I must admit to having a weakness for those ads. I do love talismans and amulets, though I'm more inclined to hunt something suitable up at an antiques shop or make one than buy one ostensibly for that purpose. Hunting for talismans makes a great weekend activity. :)

One of my most prized possessions is a pure silver coin that belonged to my great-grandmother, Rosa. It has a hole through it to thread a chain or string through. She used it as part of her practice as a healer. In those days, silver was believed to take poisons out of the body.

If anyone is interested, I'll post a picture of it when I get the chance.

In the past, I've made talismans out of wood from certain trees. Carving the appropriate signs on them is easy with engraving tools. Clay works, too, but I've found wood to be more effective for their intended purpose. I did carve one out of stone as a gift for my son's 18th birthday, which turned out lovely but was tough going. It does seem to bring him luck though. (Magic? Placebo effect? As long as it works, it hardly matters, IMO)

Last year I wrote something touching on these issues and how I feel about them in a blog post
http://victoriaphantasmagoria.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-mysteries-of-fate-and-other.html
(Forgive bad writing, please - I'm not as expert as many here. The blog is just a place to keep my thoughts and memories)

And here's a more recent pic of a found pendant that, while cheaply made, struck me as having unspoken, symbolic meaning of the type referred to in the post linked above:
http://victoriaphantasmagoria.blogspot.com/2016/10/tree-in-silver.html
 
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And here's a more recent pic of a found pendant that, while cheaply made, struck me as having unspoken, symbolic meaning of the type referred to in the post linked above:
http://victoriaphantasmagoria.blogspot.com/2016/10/tree-in-silver.html
A representation of Yggdrasil maybe?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yggdrasil

EDIT: https://www.etsy.com/listing/123589482/norse-2-ravens-yggdrasil-necklace-sale

Reminds me of a pendant I used to have, made of silver, circular and quite small. It was a rider on a horse with seven (I think) legs, seen in profile. I'm sure it was supposed to be a Norse God.
Thinking on, my Mother was the last person I saw wearing it, I'll check if it's still around.

It would appear that Alchemy England (founded in anno domini 19-hundred-and-seventy-seven)
They sound familiar. Would that be the same company that used to advertise jewellery in Kerrang! magazine in the late 80's? If so, I may be a past customer of theirs. :oops:
(A silver spider pendant, if you're curious. And I know you are.)
 
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PeteByrdie

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They sound familiar. Would that be the same company that used to advertise jewellery in Kerrang! magazine in the late 80's? If so, I may be a past customer of theirs. :oops:
(A silver spider pendant, if you're curious. And I know you are.)
I bought so much tat from Alchemy back in my goth-metal days. Dragons were a favourite. Pendants, tankards, t-shirts, petrol lighters, all with dragons on.
 

EnolaGaia

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Since writing the above, I have dug out the book on the Evil Eye. ...
But I was wrong about the octopus being a common image to ward off the Evil Eye - it isn't mentioned. The Medusa's Head is probably the design I was thinking of.
The octopus features on ornaments excavated by Schliemann at Mycenae in 1876, which seems to have been when scholars began to see it as the inspiration of the Hydra.
I am sure I have seen a medallion type of octopus illustration somewhere. But so far it has resisted capture. :confused:
If the bare-chested female figure was indeed derived from Cretan / Minoan art, the octopus would also make sense.

A stylized octopus was a common figure in Minoan art - especially pottery. Do a Google image search on:

octopus crete OR cretan OR minos OR minoan

... to see examples.

EDIT: Add illustration below ...

Here (below) is an infographic illustrating variants from Minoan / Mycenaean art ...



Image URL:

http://68.media.tumblr.com/edae25ec2fb71ef40f9e5c8f06320f46/tumblr_mfe8maxfSF1qg6rizo1_1280.jpg
 
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blessmycottonsocks

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Definitely sounds Cretan. I spent a splendid afternoon in the museum at Heraklion in the Summer of 2015 and definitely recall, along with the horned statues of Knossos and the mysterious Phaistos disk, statues and frescoes of a snake-wielding topless woman and lots of artwork depicting sea creatures.

I've also just had a flashback to my late father, who was in the RAF and I remember wearing badges depicting curly-tentacled octopi, as that mysterious cephalopod was also some sort of lucky mascot for the RAF.
 

Swifty

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Definitely sounds Cretan. I spent a splendid afternoon in the museum at Heraklion in the Summer of 2015 and definitely recall, along with the horned statues of Knossos and the mysterious Phaistos disk, statues and frescoes of a snake-wielding topless woman and lots of artwork depicting sea creatures.

I've also just had a flashback to my late father, who was in the RAF and I remember wearing badges depicting curly-tentacled octopi, as that mysterious cephalopod was also some sort of lucky mascot for the RAF.
I bought a replica coin in the tourist shop when I visited the ruins of Knossos with my ex .. on one side, there was something that looked exactly like a trilobite which obviously would have been long instinct during that culture's reign ... unfortunately I've long lost that coin so I'm kicking myself about that. A lot of the fresco artwork is criticised for being 20th century creations btw.
 

Mythopoeika

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I bought a replica coin in the tourist shop when I visited the ruins of Knossos with my ex .. on one side, there was something that looked exactly like a trilobite which obviously would have been long instinct during that culture's reign ... unfortunately I've long lost that coin so I'm kicking myself about that. A lot of the fresco artwork is criticised for being 20th century creations btw.
Horseshoe crab?
 
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Reminds me of a pendant I used to have, made of silver, circular and quite small. It was a rider on a horse with seven (I think) legs, seen in profile. I'm sure it was supposed to be a Norse God.
Thinking on, my Mother was the last person I saw wearing it, I'll check if it's still around.
I thought it was Nordic and I was right. Not about the number of legs though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleipnir
 

Swifty

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Horseshoe crab?
That would make more sense yes but the sculpture on the cast of the coin had 'ribs' all along its back ? .. I've got three examples (fossils), one in 'defense' positioning which is apparently quite rare ..
 
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They sound familiar. Would that be the same company that used to advertise jewellery in Kerrang! magazine in the late 80's? If so, I may be a past customer of theirs. :oops:
(A silver spider pendant, if you're curious. And I know you are.)
I've found it. It wasn't Alchemy, but a company called The Great Frog and this is as near as damn it the pendant I used to wear as a metal-head teen. It was nowhere near £110 in the late 80's, even taking inflation into account. Since this thread has been resurrected I've also remembered that I had a silver arrowhead pendant and an earring of a dragon's claw holding a crystal orb that was too heavy to wear without great discomfort.

http://www.thegreatfroglondon.com/product/spider-pendant/

spider-pendant-front-600x600.jpg

These days, I can't even bear to wear a watch.
 

EnolaGaia

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Since writing the above, I have dug out the book on the Evil Eye.
And very interesting it is too, written by one Frederick Thomas Elworthy,
antiquarian and Freemason in 1895. Mine's a cheap modern reprint alas. ...
A full text transcription of Elworthy's The Evil Eye is accessible online at:

https://www.sacred-texts.com/evil/tee/index.htm

Searchable scanned versions of the book are also available at Google Books:

https://books.google.com/books?id=flgjy0nqyKwC&q="evil+eye"#v=snippet&q="evil eye"&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=yIdAAAAAYAAJ&q=evil+eye#v=snippet&q=evil eye&f=false
 

bugmum

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an earring of a dragon's claw holding a crystal orb that was too heavy to wear without great discomfort.
Reminds me of my teenage obsession with Cloisonne earrings in the late 80s. Quite why my earlobes don't stretch to my collarbones, or indeed how I never split an earlobe whilst running, I will never know...
 

Shady

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I got a free talisman from a Dennis Wheatly book, many many years ago, still have it, i think it may be in brass, it has an ankh cross with a snake at the side spitting, im trying to find a pic of it, but it was a loooong time ago
Got it
http://www.denniswheatley.info/heron.htm
Is it Dennis Wheatley?, and the pendant is on the top of the page
 
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