13450. Roman Silver Mano Fico Amulet
Roman, Circa 2nd to 3rd century AD.
The Mano Fico (fig hand, properly, mano fica) is an ancient obscene gesture, and is also one of the better known protective gestures against the evil eye. Fashioned into the shape of a closed hand, the thumb and fist gesture is an ancient representation of sexual union. The name is from the Italian word for the female vulva, fica, meaning fig (and also the origin of a well-known English obscenity). The fig was associated by the Romans with female fertility and eroticism; the fruit was sacred to Bacchus. The gesture is used against the evil eye in the belief that an obscenity serves as a distraction to evil, even that demons are so repelled by the notion of sex and reproduction that they flee at the symbol.