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Talismanic Tunic

Not on view

Every inch of this protective vest is covered with leather talismanic attachments filled with Qur’anic passages and other Arabic writings. The effort invested in this state-of-the-art gear suggests it was intended to shield a warrior with extensive exposure to conflict. It is said to have been worn in battle by the chief Kinné Condetto during a conflict with the French in 1889. Belief in the power of the Qur’an’s written word was such that encasing the body with text afforded the wearer a line of mystical defense. Such talismanic shirts or tunics would have been worn directly against the skin, covered from sight by outerwear.

Talismanic Tunic, Cotton, leather

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© Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY