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African Amulets

Exploring the Significance of Amulets used in Central and West African Cultures
Facilitated by Helen Zellner, SAAM Intern, SSU Senior, and Fine Artist

Participant Availability up to 24 participants between the ages of 6 – up

Just bring your creativity! All materials, tables & chairs will be supplied.


          SAAM is pleased to feature our 2021 intern, Helen Zellner, Savannah State University Senior, as our facilitator for this workshop, “Exploring  the Significance of Amulets Used in Central and West African Culture.” Please note, the workshop will be held at Savannah State University Campus and will be open to the public with Eventbrite registration.

           Amulets (charms) are commonly known as personal objects used for protection and good luck. They are found in many styles and hold many uses around the world; however, they are particularly popular in Central and West Africa. When touring SAAM you will notice them in various pieces of  the collection e.g., the Tuareg silver necklace, the Statue of King Ibrahim Njoya of Bamoun Cameroon. Amulets are worn in everyday use, placed on homes, and used in ceremonies; they provide a sense of security to those who possess them. Amulets are even sewn onto sacred clothes, as by the Bamana peoples of Mali with their Hunter’s Tunic (also seen in the SAAM collection). The practice of making these protective charms goes back centuries, A common example---amulets are made of folded pieces of parchment with a proverb/verse from the Qur’an, an affirmation to give the amulets their power. In this workshop attendees will explore various amulets and using similar practices of traditional West African amulet-making, you will create your own amulet that you feel will bring protection and good luck.

Workshop Details

This workshop will be limited occupancy so to secure your seat you must register through the Eventbrite link below.

Seats are limited and we ask that if you do register that you please arrive on time for the workshop so that the space can be utilized. 



Masks and Social Distancing will be Encouraged

Cosgrove, Adenike. "Batakari (War Shirt)." 
Ashanti Batakari:

Click here to register

for this Workshop


Meet our Facilitator!

Helen Zellner
SAAM Intern   |  SSU Senior  |  Fine Artist

  • A Native of Dublin, GA

  • A Senior at Savannah State University, Visual/ Performing Arts Major

  • Intern at Savannah African Art Museum (SAAM)

  • Recent/Current Solo Exhibitions -"What She Does" a series of 6 ink illustrations following the relationship between a young woman and the physical manifestation of her mental illness. The exhibit was first launched in Spring 2021 as Zellner’s Senior BFA Thesis Exhibition. The exhibit returned to SSU’s Access Gallery, Social Sciences Building, 1st floor, this Fall with her additional works about female identity.

Helen Zellner is a fine artist who specializes in black-and-white ink illustration. While overall experienced in painting and sequential art, Zellner uses illustration to tell a story about the complex feelings ordinary emotions fail to express. Focusing mainly on women,


Facilitator and local artist, Helen Zellner

she illustrates common feelings that often go unnoticed. Her traditional illustrations are often void of  color, giving the viewer nothing but the story before them to interpret. Keeping her works simple, the subjects usually look directly at the audience to capture their attention.

As an artist, Zellner feels it is important to embrace the arts, believing it will always tell a story about something in the world. “I chose to facilitate the SAAM workshop on the significance of amulets used in Central and West African Culture because of my initial draw to the amulets on the Hunter’s Tunic and then noticed their use in other pieces of the SAAM collection. As I learned more about them and the fact that they were the wearer's individual representation for protection or good luck, I realized I was drawn to this topic of amulets because they had a story to tell,”  said Zellner when asked why she chose to facilitate her workshop on the topic of amulets.

Please join us for an exploration of the historic and current significance & use of amulets in West & Central Africa and enjoy the creative process of making your own.

Check out Helen's work online



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