You will become pregnant within six months if you lose a pair of earrings. Your husband will be sterile if there are three dust webs hanging from your bedroom ceiling.
Folkways relating to birth and babyhood are a fascinating aspect of "Generations," the inaugural show in the International Gallery. Beyond that, the show has a didactic quality: Warnings against teen-age pregnancy, poor prenatal care and overpopulation are implicit.
For "Generations," the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service has gathered 275 wonderfully strange artifacts -- Tarot cards used to predict a child's sex in 18th-century Italy; Dr. John Hooper's Female Pills, made in America in 1744; jars for placenta burial from 15th-century Korea. There are rattles, cradles and baby shoes, and a great variety of formidable-looking forceps from over the centuries.
"Listening stations" play the baby blessings, chants and lullabys of many lands, while the faces of children from all over flash on nearby screens.
There's a large potential for sentimentality here, which the show fortunately doesn't exploit. An unromantic film about an egg's fertilization might be called "Through the Fallopian Tube." Statues from 19th-century Indonesia show graphic birth scenes. Some of the newborns in the hundred or so photos are truly ugly. And one of the saddest of all pictures is here, of a man bundling up small dead children in an Ethiopian relief camp.
The new gallery links the Sackler and the Museum of African Art, three floors down; it can be reached easily by entering the Kiosk, near the Castle on Jefferson Drive. It is, appropriately enough, womblike. -- Pamela Kessler.