Red coral, the multi-purposed protector

When I was on holidays in Sri Lanka I bought this coral roses set, a bracelet and a ring. Though coral is rather popular in Nepal, especially among Tibeto-Nepalese, it is not easy to find something so delicately carved. It is believed here that the person who wears coral will have success in life. Red coral is the most valuable, it is auspicious in Tibetan culture. It is a sacred colour, one of the colours of the five Buddhas and the colour of the monk's garments. It is believed to have protective qualities.
Good coral should be of oxblood colour and flawless. For beads size also matters, the bigger - the better, some corals reach almost golf ball size. In West Nepal the corals worn by many different ethnic groups come in shades of pink or salmon and are sometimes almost white.

Tibeto-Nepalese woman wearing necklace of big coral stones, with a few turquoise and dzi beads

Coral and turquoise encrusted Tibetan style belts

To the Hindus coral is associated with the astral deity Mars and may act as a powerful amulet against negative influences. Because of its red colour, coral is also associated with the elephant-headed god Ganesh, whose image is often carved in coral. And what about Europe? Here also coral has been used in the making of amulets for many centuries. According to ancient Greek legend, when the hero Perseus cut off the head of the Medusa, whose look would turn a man to stone, the monster's blood gushed out and falling into the sea, grew into beautiful red coral. For this reason, sailors and fishermen often carry a small piece of red coral to protect them in the open sea. It is also thought that a red-coral amulet gives protection from Evil Eye, from demons, from the magic spells of witches, from lunacy and from some diseases.And red coral is especially popular as a protector of babies.

Coral pendant, Italy, 17th c., the British Museum. It is carved in relief with the rare scene of the young Jesus between Mary and Joseph and the Holy Dove returning after the Dispute in the Temple.

Coral brooch and three pendants, circa 1850, Italy, the British Museum. 

Andrea Mantegna. Madonna della Vittoria. 1496, Louvre. A large branch of protective red coral hanging above Madonna's head  (source)

Detail of the above painting

Besides being used in jewelry, the power of red coral was also employed in other numerous ways: hung up in the house to protect against evil influences; hung up above the bed to protect against nightmares; placed on the roof of a house to protect against lightning; attached to the mast of a ship to protect against storms and shipwreck; tied to fruit-trees to protect against poor fruit-bearing; sewn up in a dog's collar to protect against rabies. 

Related posts Nepalese and Tibetan amulets
Turquoise jewelry


  1. wow this set is soooo beautiful! didn´t know about the importance of coral, very interesting!
    darling wish you all the best for 2013!
    love and kiss,mary

  2. I didn't know it too but I've always loved coral, I think It's very elegant and sophisticated!
    Xoxo, M.

  3. Nice Article.
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