Zar Jewelry in Egypt


Zar is a healing/reconciliation ritual complex practiced in the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea region, and the Middle East. The term itself can refer to either the ritual, which is one of reconciliation rather than exorcism, or the spirits that possess the humans and afflict them. A female-dominated practice, zar is complex and multifaceted, involving different kinds of supernatural subjectivities and agencies (of different ethnicities, genders, and religious affiliations), overlapping human and non-human worlds, diverse and dynamic sets of practices and styles, and different spatialities and materialities (including the different sites in which zars are held, such as latrines and cemeteries, and the different human and non-human bodies, as well as the different clothes, musical instruments, animal sacrifices, and jewelry used).

 “The spirits have names and identities, and in order to control them, they are depicted on small circular amulets bearing their image on one side and a verse from the Quran on the reverse. These amulets are usually adorned with little bells, just like the other jewellery worn (bracelets, necklaces), which, by jingling, complement the sound of the rhythmical music and dance.”—RAWI Magazine’s Collectors’ Blog

The following post, on the RAWI Magazine’s Collectors’ Blog, has a sample of the jewelry used in zar rituals in Egypt:


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