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Digital Images

Turtle amulet, United States, 1880-1920

Science Museum, London

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view Turtle amulet, United States, 1880-1920


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Credit: Turtle amulet, United States, 1880-1920. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

About this work


In many Native American belief systems, turtles protected against ‘women's diseases’ and were symbols of fertilty. The amulet is made from leather and decorated with beads. It was worn by girls until they reached puberty to ward off illness. It is believed to have been made by the Sioux people of the Great Plains, in North America. When a child was born, the grandmother would traditionally make an amulet in the shape of a turtle. A piece of the baby's umbilical cord would be kept inside this amulet, and if the ritual was followed and the child kept the amulet, it was believed that it would provide protection against illness and ensure a long life. maker: Sioux people Place made: United States


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