230. An Iron Horseshoe Damascened in Silver

Ottoman Bosnia, 18th century
Size: 12 × 10 cm

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The inscription in Persian, ‘Yadgar-e-Saray Bosnia’ means ‘Memento of the Palace of Bosnia’. ‘Saray Bosna’ appeared on the coins minted there during the reign of Suleiman II (1687–1691), and continued to be used throughout the following century.

Several horseshoes of this type have been published, always with the fanciful idea that they were made to be nailed onto the hooves of horses. Their purpose is altogether more interesting, and less absurd. Even today, outside the big cities, you can see horseshoes nailed up above doors, which are there to bring good luck. There remains an unresolved argument about which way up the horseshoes should be. Those who maintain they should point up believe that in such a position they collect the luck, which drips out and is lost if pointing downwards. The downers believe that they collect luck anyway, and it have to distribute it through the ends pointing down. It is a very ancient tradition, reflected in different ways in many cultures. This example, too, must have been made for nailing up in a dwelling, rather like a lightening conductor, but in this case to attract the Baraka, or blessing; good luck, as it is also called.