[ISLAMIC MAGIC / ROLL OF HAVASS / MANUSCRIPT / TALISMAN] [Tilsim – Havass] [i.e., A long Islamic talismanic scroll against the black magic, Genii, and the Devil]

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Manuscript, [n.p.], [19th century].

Unusually long original manuscript talismanic scroll. Naskh script in black, red, yellow, turquoise, dark blue, purple, green, and yellow ink on a very long single piece of paper created by adding around 40 sheets of paper to each other. 1012 x 9 cm. In Arabic. Except for sporadic notes on the verso, used the recto to script completely. Slight wear on the top of the scroll with a minuscule lack of paper, slight chippings on extremities, several stains on the verso. Otherwise, a very good copy.

Exceedingly rare and attractive Islamic talismanic scroll in Arabic, seemingly written to protect the Muslim pilgrims against demons, Genii, Satan, and black magic during the Hajj travel in the 19th century.

The manuscript scroll consists of a coloured headpiece, followed by seven hand-coloured seals of Solomon in different forms, colours, and different texts, eight magical wafk (ilm-i vefk) and ledun (ilm-i ledün) tables, and in-text b/w circles (containing various Arabic prayers). The text is completely in Arabic containing prayers, incantations, and Qur'anic verses occasionally that were kept in amulet boxes. It features a hand-coloured frame throughout the first quarter of the manuscript. The remaining part is not coloured. 

The wafk tables in the manuscript include different combinations of the Qur’anic letters and numbers, written to protect the user from the evil eye, black magic, Satan’s evil, etc. Ilm-i Ledun is used for the prophecy and the clairvoyance. Additionally, in the manuscript, Solomon's seals titled "the Most Holy Seal" were drawn repeatedly seven times. These seals in the shape of a six-branched leaf including "Hurûf-i Muqata'ah", the names of God and Prophet Muhammad are located consecutively. The text also includes almost all ninety-nine names of God (the Asma al-Husna), of which the most important is, in this manuscript, al-Rahman (the Compassionate or Merciful one).

Used in almost similar ways since the medieval primary sources of the Neo-Platonic tenth century Ikhwan al-Safa and al-Buni (d. 1225), Islamic talismans constitute a template in terms of the symbols they contain and the texts that accompany them. These handwritten amulets of varying lengths have been used by pilgrims, travelers, and even scholars (although there was always a tension between the scholars and theologians who condoned practices of Islamic magic) since the Middle Ages. These scrolls, which usually are in portable form, show us that magic was a part of the daily life of the practitioner in medieval Islamic culture.

“Talismans are supposed to ward off evil through the power of words, signs, or images. The most efficient are believed to be the prayers quoting from the Qur’an, including the name of God or that of important religious figures.” (Islamic Art Museum online).

Overall, a significant and attractive, extraordinarily long manuscript scroll of an Islamic talisman is extremely rare in this form and condition.