Magical Bowl

A bowl with a magic spell..

In this sixth century Mesopotamian bowl you can read six lines of Aramese text, with three magical signs in the middle. We don’t know the signi4cance of these symbols, but we do can read the tekst. It tells the story of mother Immi, who had this bowl made by a Jewish magician in order to protect her son Resjoni and her daughter Ispandarmid from evil demons.

A Jewish magician not only made this bowl, but most likely also carried out a ritual using brushes, fringes and hair and even blood of the person whom they wanted to enchant. The magician would make seven ‘mes seven circles in the bowl using a brush. These magical bowls were buried upside down to catch demons using the spells.

Do you worry about other people? When they’re on holiday, about an ill friend whom could use some help. Don’t we all worry about somebody now and again? Some people light a candle or send a post card.

What would you wish to somebody? Please leave your wish in the magical symbols of the wishing wall.

Want to listen to more information for adults and kids using an audio guide? Please download the Izi.Travel app and listen to #2.1 en #2.2 in the MuseumCamp tour.

Want to learn more on these kind of rituals and more? We suggest ‘The Encyclopedia of Jewish myth, magic and mysticism’ by G.W. Dennis.

Background & Challenge

Rachel Boertjens, Curator at Special Collections, University of Amsterdam, provided background information on the object and a challenge for the team. For more information got to: Unique Collection

Concept of the Exhibition

This magical bowl was commissioned by a mother as an object to protect her children from demons. The bowl conveys a message of caring for loved ones and asking for their protection.

Asking for protection is the central theme we adopted. The goal of our exhibition is twofold: engage and share.

Engagement is achieved by providing a 3D-printed copy which the visitor can touch. By making a circular movement inside the bowl, just as the sorcerer did 1500 years ago, the visitor is drawn into the object. Furthermore we provide an explanation and a translation in clear language to make its history easily approachable.

Sharing is achieved through the concept of the wishing wall, where a visitor can leave a wish for someone special.

Group members:

  • Meliantha Lelieveld
  • Simone Cremers
  • Tessa van den Haak
  • Thomas van der Linden
  • Lydia Muijen

Technology used in the exhibition

Technology used in the exhibition includes: