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Magic and Talismans

Contributed by Jerusalem Quarterly on 24.01.2008:

Baha’ al-Ju’beh

The Tawfiq Canaan Collection of Palestinian Amulets


The Jerusalem Quarterly

Issue 22-23

For most people, the notion of amulets is a thing of the nostalgic past, one associated with rituals and folk beliefs. Amulets and talismans are seen as objects of superstitions, fetishes that simple folk resorted to in solving health ailments or as remedies for social or psychological problems.

Dr. Tawfiq Canaan, one of the pioneers of medicine in Palestine, viewed the amulets differently. Well-known as one of the foremost researchers of Palestinian popular heritage, Canaan probed and asked questions concerning the value of amulets and talismans as a source of knowledge in interpreting the traditions and beliefs of his people. His writings in this field are an indispensable reference for researchers and all those interested in Palestinian heritage. Canaan authored numerous books, studies and articles on popular medicine and beliefs of the early twentieth century, and these have been used as sources ever since by researchers of Palestinian and Middle Eastern heritage.

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