Pendant with Lion and Scorpion

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453

This circular metal pendant is believed to be a talisman, an object that provides protection for the wearer. The pseudo-writing on this pendant, though illegible, resembles the Arabic phrase that translates to, "There is no god but God." It is thought it had talismanic power because belief in this concept is one of the basic tenets of Islam. It has been suggested that the lion and scorpion represent the Zodiac symbols of Leo and Scorpio, which were thought to give their owners protection. But why these two signs in particular are found on so many objects is still unclear. The inclusion of esoteric symbols and images is what sets this pendant apart from later Islamic talismans, when signs with more specifically Islamic connotations, especially legible quotations from the Qur’an or magic squares with letters representing the names of God, became more common.

Pendant with Lion and Scorpion, Bronze; cast

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.