BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPH OF A BUGIS FAMILY, THE CHILD (RIGHT) WEARS A KAWARI OVER HER CHEST. PHOTO: RICHTER, A., 1980, THE JEWELLERY OF SOUTHEAST ASIA, FIG 100 – TAASA Review September 2021
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This article was originally found in the September 2021 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 30, Issue 3, Page 15).
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F ew other devotional objects in Islam have stimulated such mixed reception or dynamic cultural appropriation throughout the faithâ€™s 1400-year history as magic amulets and talismans (Arabic: tamÄ«ma, taâ€™widh, or hafiz).
From serving as revered expressions of piety and a means of evoking Allahâ€™s protection to being decried as heterodoxies of true Islam, the contentious nature of talismans is evident in over a millennium of vigorous intellectual, cultural and political developments across Islamic societies.
A late addition to this tradition, the matching pair of talismanic discs (Indonesian: kawari) held by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) not only highlight the theological complexity of Islam itself but also attest to the social and religious flexibility of Southeast Asian cultures...