Cambs Uni Publications


Amulets in the Arab World

14th August 2015
Posted by S Taylor

From northern Kuwait there comes an example of an amulet case bearing an inscribed Swastika.  Because the Prophet Mohammed forbade the representation of humans and animals, geometric patterns often dominate Islamic artwork – including the Swastika and its derivatives.

In the context of Arabian astrology we notice the close link between the quaternary symbol and the solar disk. Arabic magic is highly symbolised, and a degree of special virtue was deemed to reside in this symbol alone – in addition to any other magic used with it. There were several Arabian adaptations of the quaternary symbol to invoke different powers such as the invocation to the fourth Caliph, and companion of Mohammed.

Arabian quaternary symbol
Islamic Quaternary Symbol

This is common among followers of the Shiah rite, who revere this personage very highly.  In Iran, then known as Persia, the symbol was associated with the invocation to the Four Caliphs, the arms or legs of the figure giving the impression of clockwise rotation.  A distinct quaternary value has been accorded this Islamic symbol.  Each of the four points of the compass has been allocated a particular angel:

North signifies Life                          East signifies The Announcer

West signifies The Recorder        South signifies Death

 There was also a similar usage in other ancient religions.  The Swastika and the equal-armed cross were not only symbols of certain deities, but also of the winds that arose from the four cardinal points.

More detail is to be found in The Fylfot File [2006].


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