ROMAN BRONZE PHALLIC PENDANT
Measurements: 6 cm - length
Description: An Ancient Roman bronze cast amulet of fist and phallus type, featuring a manus fica to the left and phallus to the right. In the centre, a realistic representation of phallus and testicles. Suspension loop at the top and back surface unworked.
The manus fica, "fig hand", was an obscene hand gesture that was thought to represent female genitalia. Romans associated the fig with female fertility and eroticism; the fruit was sacred to Bacchus. Whether made as an apotropaic gesture, worn as an amulet or affixed to a larger object, the manus fica was used for magical protection against the evil eye. The pater familias, the head of the family, would make the manus fica sign during the Lemuria festival to ward off evil spirits in the household. An appliqué like this might have been attached to a domestic item, perhaps a piece of furniture.
The fascinus or fascinum was the embodiment of the divine phallus. The word can refer to the deity himself (Fascinus), to phallus effigies and amulets, and to the spells used to invoke his divine protection. Phallic appliqués in ancient Rome were talismans used to ward off the evil eye. This kind of sorcery was thought to ward off primarily envy (invidia) that was targeted against the fertility of animal, crop and person. As the ancient author Pliny attests, even babies and soldiers wore such charms to invite divine protection. The English "fascinate" derives from the Latin verb fascinare, "to use the power of the fascinus".
Period: 1st - 3rd century AD
Condition: Fine with signs of aging on the surface. Mounted on a cutom made stand