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Apotropaic Plants in the Persian Folk Culture

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

In the Persian culture, the acrid, pungent, and at times irritating smell of some plants have given rise to some beliefs so far as a magical and supernatural power has been attributed to them. Harmal, garlic, onion, and asafoetida are the most important herbs that are supposed to have apotropaic power to ward off vicious creatures, exorcise the evil eye, and annul magic. The paper presents a detailed description of the Iranian folk rituals and ceremonies where the above plants feature as magical elements and evil repellents par excellence. A short review of the role of these herbs in the traditional medicine is given as well.


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