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Necklace of snake vertebrae, Europe, 1871-1916

Science Museum, London
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Credit: Necklace of snake vertebrae, Europe, 1871-1916. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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The growing influence of biomedicine in the 1800s did not necessarily replace established forms of treatment based on belief and superstition. What could be referred to as folk medicine – customs that often went back generations – continued to be practised. For example, here the bones of a snake have been threaded on to string to make a rather uncomfortable looking necklace. It is thought that this amulet was used to protect against lower back pain – perhaps the fluid slither of a snake was thought to encourage the back muscles to stay supple. The snake necklace was originally made in North London and then purchased in 1930 from Edward Lovett’s (1852-1933) collection of British amulets and charms. Lovett was interested in folk remedies all his life and began collecting from the age of eight. maker: Unknown maker Place made: Europe


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