Lot 1799: Post Medieval Italian Witch Charm Group
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 19th century AD. A group of silver amulets comprising: head of Mercury with wings to the top of the head, two double-headed axes to the side and a scrolling plant motif below; a hand making the cornuto sign, holding a key with snake coiled down the centre, horse to one side and man holding bow to the other side; a hand making the cornuto sign, holding a coiled snake with horse to the front and dog to its back; a key with scrolled head; a running dog. Cf. Berry, V. Neopolitan Charms Against the Evil Eye, in Folklore, Vol. 79, no. 4 (Winter 1968), pp. 250?56. 15 grams total, 29-45mm (1 1/4 - 1 3/4"). English private collection; acquired in the 1970s. In South Italy there is still a strong belief in the powers of the Evil Eye, or malocchio, and amulets have been made since Roman times to ward off the negative powers. During the 18th and 19th centuries silver amulets were made in the region of Naples to protect against the powers of stregha, or witches. In Italy it was believed that children are especially weak against the forces of the Evil Eye. The high infant mortality rate was more likely due to poor hygiene and diet, but it was attributed to the Evil Eye being cast on them by a jettatore. Jettatore is an Italian word of Neopolitan origin, and was used to refer to one who has the powers of the Evil Eye. [5, No Reserve]
Condition Report: Fine condition.