2013-09-05
Mano Fica
The Keijser collection includes also a  small selection of amulets, like this Mano fica amulet. The hand is a common symbol in talismans against enchantment. Hand amulets appear already in Roman times, particularly in the area we now know as Italy. They served to protect from all evil influences, in particular the "evil eye", which is believed to cause injuries and is even able to kill someone is affected.

Belief in the evil eye already appeared in ancient Greece and Rome. Because pregnant women, children and livestock would be vulnerable for the evil eye, these amulets are often hung in cribs and they were incorporated into rattles. Hand-amulets are usually made of bright red coral or ??a different brightly colored gemstone. These bright colors mislead the evil eye, and thus provide extra protection.

Hand amulets can take a variety of positions, but the most common are the mano cornuta (or the 'devil horn') with the middle and ring fingers closed by the thumb and index finger and little finger raised so that the hand has the shape of a horned animal.

In the mano fica (the "fig hand") the thumb is placed between the middle finger and index finger. In ancient times, the fig was a symbol of Dionysus and Bacchus, the Greek and Roman gods of wine and fertility. But the Italian word fica also refers to the female sexual organ. The fig hand is therefore associated with female fertility and eroticism.

Sources:

Pitt Rivers Museum, 'Horned Hand, Corsica' [Online]: link to the site [Seen on: 26-7-2013].

Literature:

Pavitt, K. en W.M. Pavitt, Het boek der talismans, amuletten en zodiakale stenen. Amsterdam: W.N. Schors Uitgeverij 1983, 54.

For more information:

See object information Inv. Nr. N066 and for comparable items in the Keijser Collection: pointer with mano fica Inv. nr. N084 or a gemstone amulet Inv. Nr. N092.


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