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HOME : Near Eastern Art : Aramaic Incantation Bowls : Terracotta Incantation Bowl
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Terracotta Incantation Bowl - SP.438
Origin: Jordan
Circa: 500 AD to 800 AD
Dimensions: 3.25" (8.3cm) high x 6.50" (16.5cm) depth
Collection: Near Eastern Art
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The term "Babylonian demon bowl" is used to describe earthenware vessels found exclusively in various sites of Iran and Iraq, created as forms of both protective and aggressive magic. They are identified by writing on the interior, and occasionally on the outside, in either Jewish- Aramaic, Syriac, Mandaic or Persian (Pehlevi). Placed in the corners of rooms where demons were believed to sneak in through cracks in the floor and walls, the bowl was buried facedown to lure malevolent spirits inside in order to trap them. The script was presumably an enticement, attracting demons so they would not do harm to persons or property. The open area in the center, combined with the sinuous, flowing script along the flared sides, does give the impression of a swirling vortex. Elegant in its simplicity, powerful in its incantation, this extraordinary bowl is a tangible link to magical practices of the Near East in Late Antiquity. - (SP.438)


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