Heidi Trautmann

May 25-09 June: Omid Kalantar Motamedi – Solo Exhibition TALISMAN at the SOL Atelier Nicosia


By Heidi Trautmann


“If we consider Graphic Design as an art form of simplified motifs, images and symbols with the aim of conveying messages through lines, shapes, numbers and letters, we have to put the Talisman art in this category. Out of all believes and doubts, in this exhibition I tried to bring up and give significance to the artistic and unique values of this forgotten traditional art form which has been shaded by superstition…..”


This statement above is the conclusion of the following article Omid Kalantar Motamedi has written to explain the background his project for the coming exhibition is based on. It is a very interesting and demanding project and as far as I have been able to follow up his work during the last few years, it is a most succeeded and well researched project. I am very much looking forward to see all of his work on the opening evening of May 25, at 19:00 hrs. at the SOL Atelier and Exhibition Hall in Nicosia/Arabahmet quarter. Viewing times will be daily from 14:00 – 19:00 hrs.

Please take the time to read the article and you will find – just as I – that we can only agree with his words, not only in our daily life but in our own intimate history.


Talisman Art  

It is happening to all of us that there are some specific objects in our daily life that exert an enormous magnetic spell on us. It might be an old wooden box our grandma has left behind or a shell that we found by the sea, all kind of objects that create strange feelings in us preventing us to part with them under any circumstances. Having these objects around us may give us a sort of strong trust in its power, a charm to bring us luck as long as we have them with us, and who has not had such magical experience once in a lifetime.

Today, some may consider these kinds of belief superstitious and some may deeply believe in it, but these kinds of mystical incantations have been considered a very significant knowledge and discipline in humanity and its culture in the past. It developed its own language and art form so that Talisman was regarded as age one of the very significant schools of those practices.  In the Age of Reason only a rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified or is capable of logical or mathematical proof, and therefore rejects metaphysics and theism, so this enlightenment cultivated the arts and replaced some part of visual culture by the phenomenon  called ‘Talisman’[1].

According to Parviz Tanavoli, Iranian sculptor, painter, scholar and art collector a Talisman is any object that is imbued with protective powers, and in all cultures we find the existence of such objects. The history of Talisman and Amulets goes back as far as the early period of mankind when humans were wearing animal bones, teeth or ivory pieces for the success of undertakings such as hunting but also to protect their families from all kind of threats. There is ample proof that this tradition is still valid in some remote areas of our globe.

On most of these objects we find engravings, scratchings or drawings of symbols or signs which cover the purpose and the specific desired aims. Later, with the discovery of metals and the development of tools, the talismans and amulets became more sophisticated and were worn as necklaces, bracelets, rings or even clothes. These very special treasures were kept within the family and handed down from the elder to the younger generation to protect them from evil, especially among lovers the exchange of such objects was common practice.

In the world of Islam, they bear Qur'anic inscriptions as well as images of prophets, astrological signs, and religious narratives. Many Muslims believe that an object that is inscribed with the word God (Allah) will protect the person who reads, touches, or sees it and that the word of God has the power to ward off evil. The surface of a talismanic object can be covered with prayers, signs, numbers, and decorative motifs, and the object is carried in a pocket, or rolled and placed in an amulet case; some talismans are worn as clothing.”

The phenomena of Talisman and Magic appear to be very similar, however, are completely different in its practice and each have its own history and a different meaning.

“Magic is an old human practice. It is sometimes defined as deception by showing something to an audience, which is contrary to reality. In Islam this is part of magic power, which is, however, defined as seeking the help of demons to perform something harmful against somebody.”


In addition to the fact that Islam prohibited the learning and practicing of magic, a magician did not have a place in the general belief of Muslims, and they were to stay away from witches.

Unlike the act of magic that was based on deception and lack of scientific foundation, Talisman was based on the study of Occult Science. For this reason, magic was not as common in the Islamic countries as it was prevalent in Western countries. And while in Islamic belief magic was prohibited and the practice of it was an obscene act, the rest of the supernatural sciences were free to study and practice and some of these sciences were practiced by the prophets.


“The representations by certain prophets were more efficacious than by others with Solomon being the most powerful of all. Solomon had the ability to talk to animals and supernatural beings (jinns), and was renowned for his wisdom; Bilqis, Queen of Sheba, was, by witnessing this wisdom, converted to monotheism.”


The themes of Talismans are often religious and despite some similarity to the religious prayer they differ. While prayers are associated with verses, divine names and the name of the prophets, most verses for the talismans have been abbreviated and reduced to words, names or symbols and some parts are constantly repeated. This makes Talisman not comprehensible to everyone and only scholars and those who have practice in Occult Science (“Occult Science or knowledge of the hidden is the systematic research of occult concepts in a manner that resembles the way natural science researches or describes phenomena and also refers to knowledge of the hidden. Practices in Occultism are including - but not limited to -  alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, religion, and divination.”) are able to understand and translate them.


In most of the Talismans, numbers were used instead of letters. This numeral system is called Abjad numerals, the use of which was very common among old Muslims and Greeks. Each letter in Abjad numerals has a numerical substitute on a predefined chart, which was known only to the owner of the chart in order to calculate the conformity of letters and numbers and finally reveal the meaning of the numbers.


One of the common usages of Abjad numerals in talismans was to write 99 names of God that are mentioned in the Quran. Each one of these names has a special power and strength which in different situations and in accordance with different purpose and demands, are drawn or engraved on animals' skin or metal parts.


In-spite of all the research and studies done about Talisman and Occult sciences, the knowledge that we have gained and accumulated is not satisfactory and there is a lot still unknown and will remain so as an unrevealed secret. However, if we put aside matters of belief, logics and religious concepts connected with it, there is a unique art in its own value which remains and which is unparalleled  in all other fields of the Arts. If we want to find a place for the Art of Talisman within the Visual Arts, may be the closest we can get and the best match would be Graphic Design.


If we consider Graphic Design as an art form of simplified motifs, images and symbols with the aim of conveying messages through lines, shapes, numbers and letters, we have to put the Talisman art in this category. Out of all believes and doubts, in this exhibition I tried to bring up and give significance to the artistic and unique values of this forgotten traditional art form which has been shaded by superstition.



Tanavoli, Parviz, Talisman, 1982, ISBN, 978-964-96383-4-8

Al-Saleh, Yasmine, Harvard University "Amulets and Talismans from the Islamic World", Metropolitan Museum of Art 

P.338, Andreas Sofroniou, ART FOR PSYCHOTHERAPY, Lulu.com, ISBN, 20161326789597, 9781326789596

P.182 Ahmed Shendy Yousef, Islam within Judaism and Christianity, A Voice From The Past: Shedding Light on the unity between the Torah, Gospel and Quran Scriptures, AuthorHouse, 2014,

 Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (2013). "The Notion of "Occult Sciences" in the Wake of the Enlightenment". Retrieved 6 March 2017.


Omid Kalantar Motamedi Biography

Omid Kalantar Motamedi studied Design and Visual Communication at Soore Fine Arts University (Iran, 2004). He graduated in Visual Art and Visual Communication Design, MFA programme from Eastern Mediterranean University (Cyprus, 2015).

Throughout 15 years of professional experience he gained a great deal in business and management skills as Art director and Senior Graphic Designer which combined with academic knowledge of Art and Design. 

In 2012 he collaborated with Profile, an advertising company and publisher of 3-monthly magazines, and was responsible for advising and generating innovative concepts, brand designing, page layouts and advertisements. In March 2013 he founded his Cyprus Design Studio and since September 2013 he is faculty member and senior instructor in the Graphic Design Department of the Fine Arts, Design and Architecture Faculty at Cyprus International University.



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