Indonesian Shadow Puppetry (Wayang Kulit) is one of the oldest storytelling traditions around the world. Oil lamps project the shadows of the intricately designed puppets on to cloth as the puppeteer narrates the story, often from a Hindu epic like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Images: 1-2 Tropenmuseum, Anggita Gloria, Rebecca Marshall.
Pendants like these, carved from ivory or bone, represent characters in proverbs from Bwami, an educational system that taught the values of the Lega people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They were owned by men and women of the highest ranks of Bwami, who were the intellectual, moral, and political elite. Source: National Museum of African Art, Late 18th Century
Masks of the Opata people, indigenous to Mexico. These masks may have been used in the Opatan spring procession rite known as the fariseo, which still occurs during Easter week in most towns and villages in Opata Country. Source: Museum of the American Indian
These masks, found in the southern Judean desert, are estimated to be over 9,000 years old, the oldest ever found. The first two were found in 1983 in a cave belonging to an ancestor cult among other artifacts, including a decorated human skull. Images: Elie Posner/Israel Museum
The Baku is an entity from Japanese mythology that eats nightmares. If you have a bad dream, call out to the Baku when you wake up. But don’t do it lightly, because if your nightmare leaves it hungry, it may eat your hopes and desires as well. Image: LACMA
This Ritual Mask, currently housed in Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, belonged to Alex Sanders, also known as Verbius, who was an English occultist and High Priest in the Pagan religion of Wicca.
During his black magic period, he got a job at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. An accusation that he defecated in the library basement led to the discovery that stole pages from a 19th century edition of the S.L Mathers translation of the ‘Key of Solomon’. Image: Ethan Doyle White CC-BY-SA
The Prognosticon, or The Divining Disc of Pergamon, is a bronze amulet, found in Asia Minor in 1899CE, that was used by ancient magicians of Pergamon to tell the future. The disc seems to use a combination of magic systems, bearing characters from King Solomon amulets, Greek letters, Egyptian hieroglyphs and planetary symbols.
While the Prognosticon’s divination system is unknown, one theory is that the user was meant to gaze into it’s design, in order to enter an altered state of consciousness for divination. Some believe, that by merely possessing an amulet with its symbol, your insight, intuition, and imagination will be enhanced, and replicas of the artifact have been made for consumers. Image: Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, CC-BY-NC-SA
The sarcophagus of Leopold I (1640 – 1705), Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia, found in the Kapuzinergruft Crypt in Vienna, Austria. Images by Jebulon and Dennis Jarvis from Wikimedia Commons.
Pustahas were books of magic, made of tree bark, used by spiritual leaders of the Batak people of Northern Sumatra. The first of these pustahas is inscribed with instructions on how to protect oneself from evil. Source: KITLV & Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde