Other Names:
Cult of relics
Dependence on amulets, charms and talismans

Belief that the possession or wearing of an object charged with certain powers will procure for its owner the benefits of those powers. Such objects are regarded with irrational reverence. Any one who wears or carries these, who touches them, who prays to them, or who uses them in a variety of other ways, benefits by his action. The fetish itself may be a material, or even an animal (cock, serpent, etc), or natural (river, tree, etc), or part of a dead body (skull, penis, tooth, hair, etc). The object may then be considered to embody a spirit who can act through it or be communicated with. In some cases the objects are held to acquire their powers from their association with some powerful person. They are then valued in proportion to the extent of the power, strength, qualities or saintliness of the person to whom they originally belonged, as well as of the love or respect in which he was held.


The use of fetishes continues to be common in tribal societies, although the practice of wearing portions of the anatomy of a dead enemy or ancestor are no longer common. Relics of saints and holy men continue to be a prominent feature of most of the world's major religions, both in developing and industrialized countries. In many cases they are a focus for both pilgrimages and for tourism. Charms and talismans continue to be valued and sought after in most cultures.

Narrower Problems:
Commodity fetishism
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST