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FA I TH


Seahorses


bundles of three with red worsted’ on the Venice Lido. At the nearby town of Chioggia, he found fishermen’s wives, who kept dried seahorses on their breasts to facilitate the flow of milk while nursing infants.


Bawdy charms


In the Middle Ages, it was common for pilgrims to acquire small metal badges from the shrines they visited, in part to protect from harm and to bring good luck. While many depicted saints and other religious symbols, some have been found with far bawdier imagery, including male and female genitalia in the most unusual of ‘tableaux’, such as an ambulant female vulva with legs, sporting a hat and carrying a staff.


Glass seahorse and miniature aluminium gondola prow Italy RRa0174, RRa0188 / 1985.51.538, 1985.51.871 Pitt Rivers Museum


When I was in Venice,


one of the fi rst things that struck me was that every gondola had a brass sea horse on each gunwale, and facing the bow...


I am very much inclined to believe that the curious white metal prow of this remarkable boat is evolved from the sea horse…


Edward Lovett in Magic in Modern London, 1925


Adrien de Mortillet


Adrien de Mortillet holding a skull Photograph 13593i Wellcome Library


Three dried seahorses Italy RRa0169 / 1985.51.340 Pitt Rivers Museum


In Magic in Modern London, Edward Lovett related finding itinerant hawkers selling seahorses ‘tied in


When Adrien de Mortillet (1853–1931) was 19, he left France for Moscow, where he took a job in a French perfume factory and became a circus juggler and aeronaut. After completing his military service for France, he worked with his father Gabriel, a famous anthropologist and archaeologist, illustrating many of his books. De Mortillet himself later became a lecturer in anthropology and travelled to South America as principal archaeologist on a government expedition. He sold his amulet collection to the Wellcome Museum a few months before he died; the amulets from de Mortillet’s collection still have his original tiny green labels attached.


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