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).
- Ethnography and Folk Medicine
- Object Number:
- Loan, Wellcome Trust
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