Posts Tagged ‘talisman’

Mystery Talisman

Mystery Talisman Left on Construction Fence, Coney Island Boardwalk. January 15, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Who made this exquisitely crafted talisman and why? On Saturday, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy found what he described as “a strange voodoo mask” on the Boardwalk construction fence where Shoot the Freak used to be until it was razed by Zamperla. The site is the future entrance to Zamperla’s Scream Zone, which is set to open this spring with new thrill rides. At first glance, the photo reminded us of the Astroland Shrine, a memorial that mourned the loss of the amusement park in the last days of 2009. That shrine included a hand-made collage, which was stolen overnight, as well as flowers and talismanic objects placed on the Boardwalk gate of the former Astroland. Is this new talisman a lucky charm for the future and will it still be there in the morning?

Mystery Talisman

Mystery Talisman Left on Construction Fence, Coney Island Boardwalk. January 15, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Possible clues to this mystery: The most prominent feature on the front of the talisman is an eye. According to Wikipedia: “In Egyptian myth the eye was not the passive organ of sight but more an agent of action, protection or wrath.” Two small compasses are embedded in the flowers. The reverse side is characterized by Chinese imagery. What does it signify?

The phrase talismanic object seemed to fit, but what is a Talisman? ATZ consulted the website of Dr Raven, ConjureMan Ali

Talismans are ritually prepared sacred objects that house spiritual power and force aimed at attracting specific objectives, energies, and goals… These talismans are constructed and consecrated in a variety of forms given the cultural matrix that they arise from. Some are a set of geometric and Qabalistic symbols and words that rely on complex associations to invoke a variety of powers, while others are simple objects infused with elemental, planetary, and natural power with the goal of attracting what is desired.

mystery object

Mystery Talisman Left on Construction Fence, Coney Island Boardwalk. January 15, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

UPDATE January 18, 2011:

Over the weekend, some commenters on the Coney Island message board and Facebook claimed the object was the Evil Eye (“malocchio” ) against the Italian amusement operator Zamperla. ATZ strongly disagreed:

How do you know who put this talismanic object on the fence and why?

Anyway I disagree completely with everyone. I see it as exquisitely beautiful, but unsettling. Have you seen pictures of anything like it? I haven’t been able to find any on the web when I was researching my post today. I think it’s a singular creation. An esoteric artwork. Of course it has magical power!

It could also be a talisman or amulet to PROTECT the property AGAINST the person possessing the evil eye or perhaps against the development?

When I Googled ‘Evil Eye,’ I did find this from the Ophthalmic Heritage Museum of Vision. The amulet pictured below is apparently used to protect against the evil eye…

The concept of the evil eye is found in many cultures and religions, spanning the globe from the Middle East to the Americas. This superstition holds that a person possessing the evil eye can cause injury or even death to anyone they choose simply by gazing at them. Prayer, manual gesturing, and even mirrors have been used to avoid being cursed. More popular still are objects such as amulets, clothing, and jewelry that are decorated with stylized eyes.

ATZ sent an inquiry about the object to the Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, CUNY. Here is their reply

Dear Tricia,

Thanks for your email.

Given the images on your blog, the well-crafted object looks like an artist’s rendering of a circum Mediterranean (but not limited to that area) amulet against the evil eye. Visual allusions to an evil eye amulet are the image of the eye, what we assume are rosary beads, and the horizontal rectangle on the back that references deceased saints’ reliquaries. Historically, amulets of this type were not used to cause a negative effect, but to counter a negative effect.

We hope this helps. Keep us posted!

Rosangela Briscese and Dr. Joseph Sciorra

Rosangela Briscese
Coordinator for Academic and Cultural Programs
Managing Editor, Italian American Review
John D. Calandra Italian American Institute
Queens College, CUNY


Related posts on ATZ…

December 7, 2010: Art of the Day: Freak Taxidermy Skull by Takeshi Yamada

October 5, 2010: Mystery Artist Carved Faces into Rocks on Coney Island Beach in 1970s

December 30, 2009: Looking Back & Forward: Astroland Shrine on New Year’s Day 2009

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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