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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Hand amulet

A type of amulet, worn as a pendant, in the form of a hand with the fingers in positions of varying significance. The hand, usually of ivory, crystal, jet or wood, sometimes extends from a gold and jewelled suspensory mount made as part of a sleeve with a frilled cuff.

Such amulets were worn in the 16th/18th centuries, mainly in Spain, as a deterrent against the 'evil eye'. When the hand is clenched with the thumb protruding between the index and third fingers (mano in fica), the amulet is called in Spain a "higa", although that term has sometimes been extended to refer to such an amulet in the form of a woman's right hand (occasionally having jewelled finger rings on the index and third fingers) with the thumb and index finger forming a loop in a position regarded formerly as a gesture against the evim eye, but today as a gesture of accord.

The gesture known as the mano cornuta (horned hand, denoting cuckoldry), with the index and little fingers extended upward, has also been used on amulets.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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