Pair of silver amulets of two fantastic animals
Naples, late 18th- early 19th century
Silver, punches and the seal of the Kingdom of Naples
H 7 cm L 8,5 cm
With the chains 24 cm
Amulets and talismans were the first ornaments in the history of humankind, worn not for vanity but for enjoying the signs of divine benevolence they brought the wearer. They are protective, propitiatory and curative pieces, characterized by their apotropaic functions of warding off evil influences, attracting positive ones and preserving therapeutic properties.
Those charms were considered “magical” jewellery telling of humankind’s primordial need to believe in a supernatural dimension for the governance of imponderable factors like health, luck and illness.
These chains were used to hang the amulets from the cribs of newly-born children because people tought that children were 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 Neapolitan origin, and was used to refer to one who has the powers of the Evil Eye.
Those charms were mostly produced from the late 18th century up to the 19th century in Naples, South Italy, to ward off the negative powers of Evil Eye ans streghe (witches).
The amulets depict two fantastic animals: half-winged unicorn (or horse) and half fish with a pierced tail. The hippocampus is associated by analogy to mermaids and sea horses, an also assumes an apotropaic function. The silver was considered the metal of the moon goddess. The charms, with three bells each, bear the seals of the Kingdom of Naples.
Similar amulets in differents shapes can be found at the Victoria and Albert Museum and at the Museo del Gioiello di Vicenza.
7 800 €
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