Votive efficacy

Did ancient anatomical votives actually work?

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Ceramic medallion with image of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow.

Of Things Taken and Left Behind: A Visit to a Russian Cemetery in France

Urmila Mohan earned her doctorate in anthropology from University College London. She is the editor of the Material Religions blog. She recently published “Dressing God: Clothing as Material of Religious Subjectivity in a Hindu Group”, in the edited volume “The Social Life of Materials: Studies in Materials and Society.” In November 2015, I visited the Russian cemetery (le…

A votive offering at the tomb of Abdul Salaam ibn Mashish, an important wali of Morocco

The City of Saints: Seeking the Friends of God in Fes

Peter Dziedzic is a Fulbright grantee studying Sufism in Morocco. Among his interests are the practices of pilgrimage and saint veneration in the ancient city of Fes. Peter will soon expand his research on these phenomena to other parts of the Islamic world. He eventually hopes to pursue comparative work on sainthood in Christianity and…

Material and Sensual Religion Workshop

The following workshop took place in Milton Keynes on Wednesday 4th November, hosted by the Open University. Follow this link to read a Storify of the proceedings. Material and Sensual Religion, Past and Present: A Workshop  Wednesday 4th November, The Orchard Room, Hotel Mercure Milton Keynes Parkside House 10 – 10.30 Arrival, welcome and coffee/tea 10.30 –…

Devotion and Cultural Patrimony

How can we understand the relationship between religious devotion and cultural patrimony? How does the performance and documenting of sacred rituals intersect with the construction of collective memory? These questions are explored in a new volume entitled Linguaggi della devozione. Forme espressive del patrimonio sacro [‘Languages of Devotion: Expressive Forms of Sacred Patrimony’ ] edited…

Love Locks: Votive deposits or destructive vandalism?

Ceri Houlbrook is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester Love-locks are exactly what the title suggests: padlocks purchased and employed worldwide as statements of romantic commitment. Typically a couple (often tourists), having inscribed their names/initials on a padlock, will attach it to the railings of a bridge or other structure, and will…

Describing Depositions

Andreas M. Murgan works at the Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. As we know, it was a common phenomenon to sacrifice objects in ancient sanctuaries and deposit them as a gift to the gods. It is not surprising, therefore, that we often find traces of such dedications in the form of pits or…

The keys to the sanctuary

A new Italian catalogue records the results of recent excavations at the ancient Faliscan sanctuary of Monte Li Santi-Le Rote at Narce, which is located 9km south of the ancient settlement of Falerii (modern Civita Castellana). The assemblage of votives from this sanctuary is completely unique, and the publication, entitled I Tempi del Rito [Times…

Votives as ‘Self Evidence’

Just published over on the Wellcome Collection blog – some thoughts on how votives relate to the forensics principle ‘Every contact leaves a trace’ (formulated by Edmond Locard). Self Evidence With thanks to Russell Dornan, digital editor at the Wellcome Collection

Blythe House Field Trip

On Friday 8th May The Votives Project had its inaugural field trip to Blythe House in London, which is the store and archive for The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science and British Museums and the Wellcome Collection. We spent a fascinating morning examining the anatomical votives collected by Henry Wellcome (that is, those which…

Miracles in Mexico

We’ve just received notice of a fantastic new website about votives and other ’empowered objects’ from Mexico. Miracles in Mexico is the companion website for Frank Graziano’s forthcoming book Miraculous Images and Votive Offerings in Mexico, which will be published later this year by Oxford University Press. The site hosts a selection of photographs taken by Professor Graziano during his fieldwork at shrines…

Votives on display (Part 2)

In ‘Votives on display (Part 1)’ I wrote quite generally about how votives might have been displayed in ancient sacred spaces. In this second part I want to try out some ideas about how particular types of ancient Italian anatomical votives might have been displayed and suggest that thinking about this might offer some new…

Votives on display (Part 1)

Last weekend I was at the 2015 Classical Association Conference in Bristol and, after my paper on the sensory experience of dedicating infant votives, I was asked a question about where these votive objects were placed and how were they ‘displayed’. If they were placed on an altar or something similar, I was asked, could…

Votives and conflict: postscript

A few weeks ago I wrote a post inspired by an article published in 1918, in which the classicist Eugene S. McCartney described some of the votive objects and dedicatory activities that he had encountered at holy sites during the First World War. The sites he visited included the cathedral of St. Andre, Bordeaux (France)…

Our Daily Bread

Yesterday (11 March 2015) saw the opening of a new exhibition of ex-votos curated by the Fondazione Per Grazie Ricevute at the Palazzo Giureconsulti in Milan, entitled Give us today our daily bread: The Earth, the Harvest and Food from Antiquity to the Present.   The exhibition centres on the age-old themes of food, the earth and…

Votives and conflict

Last year, on the anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Jess Hughes wrote about votive paintings dedicated by Italian soldiers and their families. Recently, when searching for something entirely different, I stumbled across an article published in 1918 by Eugene S. McCartney. It presents an account of his personal encounters, in 1916…

Ex-voto dedicated to Santa Rita of Cascia by Yves Klein, 1961 Dry pigment, gold leaves, gold bars and manuscript in a plexiglas box, 14 x 21 x 3.2 cm © Yves Klein / ADAGP, Paris, 2014

Yves Klein’s ex-voto to St Rita of Cascia

Ex-voto dedicated to Santa Rita of Cascia by Yves Klein, 1961 Dry pigment, gold leaves, gold bars and manuscript in a plexiglas box, 14 x 21 x 3.2 cm © Yves Klein / ADAGP, Paris, 2014   Just published over on the Material Religions blog – some thoughts about the Ex-voto made by Yves Klein…

Faites vos voeux!

An exhibition at the Musée de La Poste (hosted by the Musée du Montparnasse), Paris, showing until 3rd January 2015. Faites vos voeux! (Make your vows!) brings together thirteen French and international artists who draw on the concept and imagery of the ex-voto. I stumbled across this exhibition by chance when I was in Paris earlier this week, and will…

A Timeline of Offerings from the Source of the Douix

Katherine M. Erdman has recently completed her doctorate at the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota. The Source of the Douix, a freshwater spring situated within the town of Châtillon-sur-Seine, has been visited by local inhabitants for the past 2,500 years. While there is a strong tradition of spring veneration in eastern France during the Gallo-Roman period…

Votives on Mount Banahaw

Paul-François Tremlett is Lecturer in Religious Studies at The Open University, UK From 1999-2000 and again in 2003 and 2009 I conducted field work on the slopes of Mount Banahaw among religious movements venerating the Filipino national hero José Rizal as the Filipino Christ, and healers who regard the mountain as a site of spiritual…

Seated couple plaque

Multiple votive offerings

Gina Salapata is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at Massey University, New Zealand. I have recently studied an aspect of votive practice that has so far remained unexplored: small offerings acquired, dedicated and displayed in multiples. There is a tacit assumption that each dedicant offered only one votive offering on a particular occasion. But nothing…