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Title:​ Manuscript [68.

83]: Amulet for the protection of pregnant women and newborn 

children ([India, Kochi, Kerala], 18th-19th cent.) 


Amulet for the protection of pregnant women and newborn children 

Collected in India (before 1976)  

Hebrew, Aramaic and Judeo-Spanish, Hebrew square script  

Ink on vellum, pasted on stitched cardboard  

Judah L. Magnes Museum purchase, Bernard Kimmel collection, 68.83 (A-5; 2007.0.65)  

17" x 23" (43x58 cm.) 

Amulet for the protection of pregnant women against infertility and miscarriage, and of 
newborn children against "the evil Lilith" on the eve of the ritual circumcision. Lilith is 
depicted at center as a bird of prey, surmounting a throne or chair (possibly a depiction of 
the "chair of Elijah," or kise shel eliyahu, used in the circumcision ritual). The central figures 
are inscribed and surrounded by multiple texts (Hebrew, Aramaic and Judeo-Spanish, in 
Hebrew square script) of various origins and significance, relating to magic and mysticism, 
within a rectangular outer frame.  

Outer frame: divided in 145 squares each containing a three-letter word, following a 
sequence based on the "72 names (of God)" (after Exodus 14:19-21), beginning at the 
bottom left corner of manuscript with the letters ‫ו‬-‫ו‬-‫(​ ו‬vav-vav-vav). Each of four corners 
marked by four five-pointed stars inscribed in four squares. Each star contains at its center 
one of the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, fully spelled as ‫הא‬-‫ואו‬-‫הא‬-‫(​ יוד‬yud-he-vav-he) 
in the sequence: top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left. Within the points of each star 
five letters spell the word ‫(​ אלהים‬elohim), and outside the star five letters spell the word 
‫(​ צבאות‬tzevaot).  

Top section includes Hebrew text on seven lines, with quotations from the Book of Psalms 
90:19 and 91:1), interpolated by names of angels (‫ מיכאל‬, ‫ מטטרון‬, ‫אמתרואל‬...),​ and the 
repetition of the word ‫(​ אהיה‬eheyeh, after Exodus 3:14) twenty-one times, with each letter 
fully spelled as ‫הא‬-‫יוד‬-‫הא‬-‫(​ אלף‬alef-he-yud-he).  

Central figure surmounted by a truncated inverted triangular text box containing the text: 
‫קנני קנדלר קנדילאס יה לה יה צבאות אס אס אס‬. ​The (Judeo-Spanish) words kandlar kandelas may 
refer to a candle-lighting ritual.  


Central figure depicts a bird of prey, identified on top by the Hebrew word, ‫(​ נשר‬nesher), 
which indicates both eagles and vultures, flanked by two sets of fifteen feathers, each 
containing a Hebrew letter. Six of the feathers (at top, middle, and bottom of each set) also 
contain three sets of palindromic words:  

1. Acronym for “Lord, you are forever mighty” (recited after the second [gevurot] 
section of the daily Amidah prayer) 

[‫אגלא אלגא אקילא ]אתה גיבור לעולם אדוני‬

agla alga aqila [atah gibor le-'olam adonay]  

2. Reference to one of the seven Gnostic emanations of God, or Aeons1 

​Gerschom Scholem, ​Jewish Gnosticism, merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition​ (New 
York, 1960) p. 66. 
‫אזגובה הגובזא‬

Azbogah hagovza  


‫ ​דןיסץ‬and ‫ץסיןד‬

4. The bird surmounts a chair, or throne, which may be a depiction of the "chair of 
Elijah" (‫)כסא של אליהו‬, used in the ritual circumcision ceremony. The chair contains 
three Hebrew inscriptions:  

4a. A
​ ngel protecting against Lilith (Samangelof) 

  ‫אל שדי צוה פחד סמנגלף מזרח שמור‬

El shadai tziva pachad samangelof mizrach shmor 


‫יהוה ת"ת זעיר יצירה‬

Yhvh t”t [tiferet] zair yetzyrah 

The acronym ‫ ת"ת‬may refer to t​ iferet  


‫אדם וחוה‬

Adam ve-chava 

Adam and Eve 

5. Below the central figure is the name  


6. Central figure surrounded by four circles of texts composed from biblical 
quotation. From the inner to the outer circle:  

6a. Palms 91:1  

‫יושב בסתר עליון‬

Yoshev be-seter elyon 

“O thou that dwellest in the covert of the Most High, and abidest in the shadow of the 

6b. Priestly blessing, Num. 6:24-26 displayed with each letter encapsulated in a 
semi-circular roundel 

‫יברכך יה וישמרך‬

Yevarcha ya ve-yishmercha 

“The Lord bless you and keep you;” 

6c. Song of Songs 3:7-8 repeated three times, and displayed with each word 
surmounted by a decorative motif

‫כלם אחזי חרב מלמדי מלחמה איש חרבו על ירכו‬:‫הנה מטתו שלשלמה ששים גברים סביב לה מגברי ישראל‬

:‫מפחד בלילות‬

Hineh mitato shel-shlomoh 

“Behold, it is the litter of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about it, of the mighty men 
of Israel, They all handle the sword, and are expert in war; every man hath his sword upon 
his thigh, because of dread in the night.” 

6d. Proverbs 30:17 repeated multiple times, each time with a different word 

‫עין תלעג לאבות‬

Ayn tilag la-avot 

“​The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens
of the valley and eaten by the vultures.”

7. Text on the right of central figure includes two sets of Hebrew Aramaic formulas 
in "oath form" for the protection of mothers and newborn children, and quotations 
from the Book of Psalms 121:4 

‫ כדכתיב הנה לא ינום ולא ישן שומר‬...‫משביע אני עליכם כל מין עינא גישא עינא אוכמא עינא צהובא עינא תכלתא‬

Mashbya any aleychem kol min eyna gysha eyna ochma eyna tzehuba eyna techalta.. Kedachtiv 
hineh lo yenom ve-lo yshan shomer Israel 

"Behold, He who guards Israel does not slumber nor sleep" 

The text follows the formulas for protection against the "evil eye" known as "oath of rabbi 
Azulai" (or ‫)לחש לעין הרע בדוק ומנוסה מהרב חיד"א‬, attributed to Chayyim Yosef David Azulai 
("ha-chida," Jerusalem 1724-Livorno 1806), after his work,'Avodat ha-qodesh (“Moreh 
be-etsba,” Livorno, Sa'adun, 1793-1794). Several of Azulai's books are included in the 
volumes from the Sassoon Library of the Jewish community of Kochi, Kerala, now at The 
Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (UC Berkeley).  

8. Text on the left of central figure includes Hebrew and Aramaic formulas 
(comprising biblical quotations), including an "oath" against the "evil Lilith who 
harms children," and against the evil eye and "satan"  

‫ועליך לילית הרשעה המזקת הילדים ועל הכל כת דילך אני משביע גוזר ואמר ואוסר וחותם ומקיים עליכון ועל כל‬
‫מין עינא בישא‬

Ve-alaych Lilith hareshaah hamazeket hayeladym ve-al kol kat dylaich any mashbya gozer 
ve-omer ve-oser ve-chotem ve-mekayem aleychun ve-al kol myn eyna bysha 

9. Bottom section includes, from left to right:  

9a. Square text box containing the names of God 

‫ ​יהוה‬and ‫​שדי‬

Shadai​ and ​yhvh 

9b. At the center acronym, after Exodus 23:26  

[‫לתמובאמיא ]לא תהיה משכל ועקרה בארצך מנוקדות יא‬

Lo tiheyeh miskal ve-aqara be-artzech menukadot ya 

"None shall miscarry nor be barren in your land" 

9c. Three quadrants with the Aramaic words (right to left)  

‫ סוסיא‬,‫ סרגא‬,‫סיסיא‬

Sysya, sarga, susya 

9d. Central quadrant containing six three-letter words, graphically related to the 
three-letter words in the adjacent outer frame. 

9d. Hebrew letter "tet" inscribed with Kabbalistic permutations of the "name of God" 
(after Moshe Cordovero, P
​ ardes rimonim​, Cracow, 1592, 21:14).  

‫אנקתם פסתם פספסים דיונסים‬

​Ankatam pastam paspasim diyunesim 

9e. Names o
​ f the angels who protect infants from Lilith and her demons. I​ntercalated 
by the name Lilith 

 ‫סנוי סנסנוי סמנגלף סמנגלון‬

sanui, sansanui, samengalaf and samangalon  

IDEA: ​http://magnesalm.org/notebook_fext.asp?site=magnes&book=1   
Flickr: w
​ ww.flickr.com/photos/magnesmuseum/4711433191