Power and Protection: Online Exhibition

The desire to know the future, influence life's decisions and repel adversities are deeply human impulses found across time and space. In the Islamic world these could be seen as clashing with Islam's central message – total surrender to God's will, and its foremost principle God's supreme and unmediated authority. Yet history reveals that Muslim societies developed different views towards engaging with the supernatural, ranging from plain acceptance to utter condemnation. Spanning from Morocco to China and the 12th to the 20th century, the books, vessels, garments and jewellery showcased in Power and Protection: Islamic Art and the Supernatural present divinatory and talismanic arts as intellectual resources and founts of artistic inspiration. By reflecting the daily fears and hopes of lower and upper classes alike, they also reveal how the human quest for protection and good luck has often overlapped with the belief in God's all-powerfulness.

This website complements the physical display by offering a useful resource for those interested in further exploring its main themes.

Interpreting Signs

A number of divinatory arts have been documented in the Islamic world through time. Read more

The Power of the Word

In some Islamic traditions, including mystical circles, the universe is thought of as an immense book waiting to be read and deciphered. Read more

Amulets and Talismans

Amulets and talismans are objects designed to confer benefits to their users through supernatural means. Read more

Audio Tracks

Visit this page to hear in-depth curatorial descriptions and readings of texts