A large and most unusual coral figa hand amulet, circa 1840. Italian vernacular magic was rooted in small rural communities where life was difficult. There was a sense that life was precarious, full of dangers at every turn and magic was one of the protective strategies people employed to ensure their survival and that of their family members. The figa was believed to be a powerful device to secure protection against the effects of bewitchment by the Evil Eye. The evil eye belief complex encompassed a range of phenomena, from the jettatura or malocchio (evil eye) to intentional magical attacks known as attaccatura (attachment), fascino or legatura (binding), and fattura (fixing). If the figa was carved from coral this increased its protective powers, as coral was believed to have been formed from the blood of Medusa. This figa is a large white coral fisted hand with a gold cuff and turquoise bracelet. From the fist hang various charms in differently coloured corals – a cornuto, a dagger, a knife, a hat, a fish, a chair and a mouse. The figa forms the clasp of an 18 carat gold chain. The chain is 16 inches long and the figa with charms is 2.5 inches long and 2/3 of an inch wide. Fine carving and immaculate.