A gris-gris (or grigri) is an amulet or talisman believed to bring the wearer good luck and/or protection from bad luck. Though some associate them with voodoo, gris-gris are commonly used by people throughout West Africa, whether Muslim, Christian or animist. Gris-gris are considered powerful, and are used as lucky charms, keeping the wearer safe and in good health. They're also considered protection against bad luck, bad neighbors, bad employers or even against sorcery. They can be worn around the neck, arms, waist, attached to belts and bags. Babies often wear one (or more) as a necklace or on tummy belts to keep them safe. In this gallery, you can see gris-gris as they are worn (you'll see lots of cute babies wearing them).
|A West African Tuareg Gris Gris from Niger|
Photo Credit: Teo Gomez
Make Your Own Gris-Gris - A West African Good Luck CharmWe made our own gris-gris with chamois picked up at a hardware store, beads, cowrie shells, cording and acrylic paint.
First, we each created our own template - a pouch with a "neck". Then a piece of chamois leather was folded in half - the template is then traced with the edge of the neck on the fold. When cut out you have one piece joined at the "neck" (I forgot to take a picture of it unfolded).
Then we sewed the pouch together with very simple stitching - making sure to leave the "neck" open. This creates an opening to put charms inside and for the cording to run through. We used leather cording to attach the gris-gris: Pea folded her length of cording in half, added knots throughout and a knot and loop on the ends.
Then we decided what to place inside. Inspired by the Qur'anic verses, we each chose and printed an inspirational quote to be folded and placed inside. The girls also have various polished stones and picked one each to include. You can leave the pouch open with its contents or you can sew the contents inside, sewing the pouch shut.
These may or may not bring good luck, but with their inspirational quotes they are reminders of something meaningful to each of us. Though I doubt they'll be sporting their gris-gris on their arms :)
Do you use good luck charms?