17h C Coral Figa
An Italian amulet of ancient origin, "Mano Figa" (mano meaning hand and figa meaning fig, a slang term for a woman's genitalia) represents a hand gesture in which the thumb is thrust between the curled index and middle fingers, imitating heterosexual intercourse. The logic here was that since the Evil Eye worked by drying up the generative fluids, a gesture of the sexual act could counteract it.
This hand charm could be made as an apotropaic gesture or worn as an amulet, usually made of silver, though older Neapolitan Mano charms were also carved of Blood Coral. The Neapolitan custom of making such charms from silver, which is sacred to the Moon goddess, Luna, and Blood Coral, sacred to the sea goddess, Venus, hints at the cultural survival of a link between the other Mano amulets and the vulva gesture of the Mano Figa in ancient Roman goddess worship, and in reference to their male, modernly equated with the Devil or Horned God.
This example features a mano figa gripping a massive bouquet of flowers with an 18k top. I've had only a handful (pun viciously intended) of 17th-century jewels, and this chunky hand has been hanging out in my jewelry box for too long; Italian, painting worthy, we're talking post-Baroque drama.
Materials and Features: coral
Age/Origin: 17th C
Measurements: 16.1 grams, 1.75"
Condition: Excellent condition. Minor associated age wear.
Please view and inspect any photos closely. We endeavor to fully disclose all condition information clearly and concisely, however, please note that what qualifies as excellent condition for historical jewelry differs from modern and contemporary pieces; please take the age of the piece into account when examining the piece. Minor age wear is typical and to be expected for antique and vintage jewelry. Unless otherwise stated, gemstones have not been officially graded for color, clarity, or treatment by GIA; any information provided is our own educated, professional assessment.