Bone amulet in the shape of a hand and arm

Made:
1870-1920 in Rome
maker:
Unknown

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Group shot of: A665906 Amuletic pendant, with manofica of coral, set in silver mount with suspension loop, De Mortillet
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

Bone amulet in form of hand and arm, in fig gesture, protects against evil eye, from Rome, Italian, 1870-1920

Hung around the neck, the bone arm and hand is shown displaying a fig or mano fica gesture with the thumb in between the index and second finger. The gesture was used to ward off the evil eye – the widespread belief that some people can cause harm to others simply by looking at them in a certain way. This ‘look’ be may given deliberately, in an attempt to cause harm, or accidentally, perhaps because of feelings of envy. The harm may take the form of bad luck, illness or death. Fig or mano fica gestures were common from the medieval period and were also used to convey obscenities or cause offence. The amulet is pictured here with similar examples made from coral (A665906) and metal (A665908).

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Details

Category:
Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
A665892
type:
amulet, folk medicine (protection) and amulet, folk medicine (protection) and manofica
taxonomy:
credit:
Loan, Wellcome Trust

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