Quadruplets-Four South Slavonic Amulet Books from 17th &18th Centuries: Genre, Context, Language

Adelina Angusheva-Tihanov, Margaret Dimitrova, Mary Allen Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


[I do not intend to offer this chapter for as a RRE submission at the moment, but find the reviews useful.]
The chapter studies the amulet books in the Balkan Slavic tradition, in the context of other textual amulets and Christian ritual books which contain similar prayers. Around the 17th and 18th centuries there were several popular versions of textual amulets among the Balkan Slavs, some in the classical form of a scroll, others in a book format. We established that a group of those in book form constitutes a close family of four almost identical manuscripts. At least one more codex is related to this family, although distantly. They were not produced by the same atelier, which further attests to the popularity of this type of collection. The book format suggests an increase in literate users, who would not simply cherish a supernatural protector, but would also read/learn from its powerful contents. These amulet books were not manuals for practicing magicians, but rather, they were almost apotropaic objects whose power resided in retaining the book, reading the texts, and even writing in it. All of the texts and the images in these amulet books were part of the hybridized Christian tradition that had already absorbed many pagan elements prior to their medieval Slavonic translations. My research identifies the magic seals in these amulet books as a selection, similar to the Greek Pseudo-Solomonic works, but Clavicula Salomonis itself is not its direct source. The chapter discusses the textual amulets as an important source for the sociology of pre-modern written tradition, as almost all of these books were personalized; they contained the names of their owners and users, some of whom held church offices. (This is also one of the first scholarly articles to make use of John Rylands – M.Gaster amulet collection though in passim.)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdelina Anguševa, Margaret Dimitrova, Maria Jovčeva, Maja Petrova-Taneva, and Diljana Radoslavova, eds. Novi izvori, interpretacii i podxodi v medievistikata. Sofia: BAN 2016.
Place of PublicationSofia
PublisherBoian Penev
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)M.Petrova, M Yovcheva, D. Radoslavova, M. Dimitrova, A. Angusheva
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • amulets
  • manuscripts
  • Slavic studies
  • Byzantine tradition
  • Solomon Seals


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