Seal of Solomon
In Medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic legends, the Seal of Solomon was a magical signet ring said to have been possessed by King Solomon, which variously gave him the power to command demons, genies (or jinni), or to speak with animals. It has the properties of both amulets and talismans.
The Seal of Solomon is, according to Islamic belief, the Star of David; there is no difference. The same symbols can be found as Turkish 'damga' (thamga), pictograms used for syllables on Turkish shrines of holy saints or on stone writings. A federation of Oguz Turkoman tribes also use it in their flag as a Turkish thamga, see Karamanids.
In one of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, an evil djinn is described as being imprisoned in a copper bottle for 1,800 years by a lead seal stamped by the ring. Other, later books (Pseudomonarchia Daemonum) manage to fit far more demons in it.
In some versions of the story, the ring was made of brass and iron, carved with the Name of God, and set with four jewels. In later versions the ring simply bore the symbol now called the Star of David (hexagram), often within a circle, usually with the two triangles interlaced (hence chiral) rather than intersecting. Often the gaps are filled with dots or other symbols. Other versions have it as a pentagram or other more complicated figures. Works on demonology typically depict the pattern of the seal as being two concentric circles, with a number of mystical sigils between the inner and outer circles, and various more-or-less complex geometric shapes within the inner square.
In one story it is claimed that the demon Sakhr deceived one of Solomon's sisters into giving him the ring. Sakhr then ruled in his stead for forty days (or years, in some versions) while Solomon wandered the country in poverty. However eventually Sakhr threw the ring into the sea, where it was swallowed by a fish, caught by a fisherman, and served to Solomon.
In alchemy, the combination of the fire and water symbols (up and down triangles) is known as the Seal of Solomon. The symbol is representative of the combination of opposites and transmutation. By combining the alchemical symbols for fire (upwards triangle) and water (downwards triangle), the alchemical symbols for earth and air are also created. The downwards facing triangle is divided along the center by the base line of the opposite triangle. This is the alchemical symbol for earth. Conversely, the upwards triangle divided by the base line of the downwards triangle is the alchemical symbol for air. The Seal of Solomon is all that is unified in perfect balance; the Spirit Wheel (see Merkabah).
Ring of Solomon in fiction
The book The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud, written in 2010, focuses on this supernatural ring. The protagonist, Bartimaeus of Uruk, later deemed Sakhr Al Jinni, stole the ring. The Ring of Solomon also plays a prominent role in Cosa Nosferatu, written in 2010 by E.J. Priz.
- Key of Solomon
- The Lesser Key of Solomon
- Solomon's knot
- Solomon's Seal (album)
- Star of David
- Testament of Solomon
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- Jewish Encyclopedia article
- The Book of One Thousand and One Nights from Project Gutenberg; see e.g. "The Story of the Fisherman."
- Various representations from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Solomon's Seal in Islamic culture also has some historical background.