Ethnobiology of Corallium rubrum: Protection, Healing, Medicine, and Magic

  • Lisa L. Price
  • Nemer E. Narchi
Part of the Ethnobiology book series (EBL)


Corallium rubrum, precious red Mediterranean coral, has been used since antiquity. This chapter examines the use of this coral in the Mediterranean region from the time of the Roman Empire for evidence of conceptions of the nature and origin of Corallium rubrum, and the healing and protective qualities attributed to it. The importance of red coral as seen through selected examples of cultural continuity is further examined through artistic works of the twelfth and sixteenth century. One of the most enduring protective qualities of Corallium rubrum has been against the evil eye. Some of the original ancient coral ornaments against the evil eye are used in the modern context as red plastic good luck charms. Given the overexploited conditions of Corallium rubrum populations and taking into account its current status as a precious “stone” the chapter ends by highlighting the need for applied ethnobiological research to ensure a future of sustainable harvest for an organism that we have for long considered essential adornment material.


Corrallium rubrum Mediterranean sea Evil eye Virility Overexploitation Folk medicine 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa L. Price
    • 1
  • Nemer E. Narchi
    • 2
  1. 1.AnthropologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Centro de Estudios en Geografía Humana, El Colegio de MichoacánJardines del Cerro GrandeLa PiedadMéxico

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