Silver amuletic pendant, 1801-1920.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A French silver alloy pendant moulded to represent the monstrous beast La Tarasque. According to legend, la Tarasque was a dragones, half fish and half mammal, bigger than twelve elephants, and with teeth like swords and a skin like iron. The creature had come from the sea and made the river Rhone its home, terrorising the surrounding towns and their inhabitants. Eventually La Tarasque's reign of terror was overcome by St Martha, with the aid of only a cros and a jar of holy water. An amulet is a personal ornament which, because of its shape, material, or colour, is believed to endow its wearer with certain powers or capabilities and offer protection from evil or illnes.