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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Classical Bronzes : Roman Bronze Mano Fico Amulet
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Roman Bronze Mano Fico Amulet - PF.5756
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 1 st Century BC to 3 rd Century AD
Dimensions: 2" (5.1cm) high x 2.5" (6.4cm) wide
Collection: Classical
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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This is a special phallic amulet of a type found throughout the Roman Empire. Originally, this bronze amulet would have hung from a large ring. Two lateral projections are attached to the central, realistically represented male genitals: on the right, a large phallus, on the left a hand making the obscene “fig” gesture, with the thumb sticking out from in between the curled index and middle fingers. This gesture is also known by the term mano fico, mano meaning: “hand,” and fico meaning: “fig.” In antiquity, the fig was ubiquitously used as a symbol of several goddesses because the fruit’s oval red interior strikingly resembles a vulva. Ancient Greeks used the word “fig” as slang for the female genitalia. Thus the hand gesture on the amulet is an obvious imitation of heterosexual intercourse. Such hand gestures are commonly used today, revealing how closely our lives are linked to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, or else perhaps how little we have evolved in two thousand years. However, this phallic amulet remains a symbol of man’s enduring, if infantile, fascination with the physicality and pleasures of the human body and the phenomenon of procreation. After all, without sex, none of us would be here. - (PF.5756)


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