4 Sep 2019

Magical Hardware

Allegra Iafrate. The Long Life of Magical Objects: A Study in the Solomonic Tradition (Magic in History) Pennsylvania State University Press (9 Sept. 2019)
This book explores a series of powerful artifacts associated with King Solomon via legendary or extracanonical textual sources. Tracing their cultural resonance throughout history, art historian Allegra Iafrate delivers insights into these objects and interrogates the ways in which magic manifests itself at a material level. Each chapter constitutes a case study that focuses on a different Solomonic object: a ring used to control demons; a mysterious set of bottles that constrain evil forces; an endless knot or seal with similar properties; the shamir, known for its supernatural ability to cut through stone; and a flying carpet that can bring the sitter anywhere he desires.

Taken together, these chapters constitute a study on the reception of the figure of Solomon, but viewed from a different angle, they are a collection of cultural biographies on the impact of magical objects and their inherent aesthetic, morphological, and technical qualities. Thought-provoking and engaging, this study shows how ancient magic artifacts live on in our imagery, in items such as Sauron's ring of power, Aladdin's lamp, and the magic carpet. It will appeal to historians of art, religion, folklore, and literature.