Fig-Hand and Horned-Hand Amulets

In “The Hildburgh Collection of Austrian and Bavarian Amulets in the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum” (Ellen Ettlinger, Folklore, 76.2 [Summer, 1965]: 104-117), I found an interesting tidbit about fig-hand amulets. I had seen them before in the Wellcome Collection and in other places, but the significance of the “fig” gesticulation has been only vaguely commented on in much art history (and Wikipedia), mostly as a “vulgar gesture.” 

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Kunstgewerbe Museum, c. 1500, German

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The horned-hand (i.e. what you make at a metal show) is also an interestingly old gesture meant to ward off the evil eye. 1985.52.2

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