SELECTION OF ROMAN PHALLIC PENDANTS
Measurements: item A: 5.1 cm − height; item B: 3.4 cm − length; item C: 4.1 cm − height, 4.3 cm − width; item D: 4.2 cm − height
Description: Item A is an ancient Roman bronze cast appliqué of fist and phallus type, with the manus fica above and a phallus below a central hole for attachment. 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.
Item B is an ancient Roman bronze cast pendant formed as a phallus and testicles with integral suspension ring above. Two hemispherical mouldings, representing testicles, extend to an oval-section shaft that curves upwards slightly towards its tip. This piece is suitable for modern wear.
Item C is an ancient Roman bronze cast crescent suspension element with phallus and testicles at the bottom and mirrored side decorations with small holes for attachment, integral oval-shaped suspension ring above. An item like this might have been attached to a domestic item, perhaps a piece of furniture.
Item D is an ancient Roman bronze phallic pendant with intact suspension loop, central male genitalia and incised pubic hair. It is slightly concave on the back and suitable for modern wear.
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". The price is per individual item. Please e-mail with the letter of your preferential item prior to purchase.
Reference: For item B: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
For items B and D: Christie's sale 5952, lot 53.
Period: 1st - 3rd century AD
Condition: Item A is very fine, lightly patinated, with minor encrustations over the whole. Item B is very fine, lightly patinated, with minor encrustations over the whole. Item C is very fine, with dark green patination and encrustations over the whole. Item D is very fine, lightly patinated, with damage to the right side of the genitalia and encrustations on the reverse.