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Engraved with a cross on an oval-shaped disc, this copper pendant was worn around the neck for protection during the 1910 cholera epidemic in Russia. This was one of the largest cholera outbreaks in Europe during the twentieth century and it claimed over 100,000 lives. An amulet was, and for many people still is, believed to have magical and spiritual powers, bringing good fortune and good health and protecting against bad luck, including sickness. They have often been called on in the face of epidemic disease. The amulet is shown here with a similar example (A666123).

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Glossary: pendant

Hanging articles of jewellery, usually suspended from a necklace, but also includes Renaissance examples fastened to the sleeve often worn as decorative ornaments; can also be an article of devotional, magical, or mourning jewelry which then may sometimes be concealed under clothing.

Glossary: cholera

A severe infection of the small intestine commonly contracted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to dehydration, which can be fatal.