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A Spanish Jet Amulet


This 16th century St. James amulet resides in the early history section of the museum.

It has a hole passing through the top where it would have been worn as a pendant or carried as a protective charm.

The piece is carved from locally sourced Spanish jet (Azabache), at Santiago de Compostela, next to the cathedral of St. James, which is also the location of the end of an ancient Christian pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago. For hundreds of years, these protective amulets have been sold to tourists as a sort of trophy or religious badge in recognition of their long and devout journey.

The overall shape of the carving resembles a Pecten shell, this is the symbol of St. James and the insignia of the pilgrim. He also wears a pilgrim's hat and frequently carries a staff in one hand and a bible in the other. Pictured below is a modern example of a St. James carving made by one of today’s Spanish Jet workers, and also, one of the many ancient pecten shells carved from stone which decorate the buildings and landmarks throughout the city.


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