Roman Bronze Phallic Amulet


A Roman bronze phallic amulet with an integral suspension loop present through the middle. The cylindrical loop is smooth and unadorned. One side of the loop shows a manus fica, while the other side displays a phallus.

Date: Circa 1st - 4th century AD
Provenance: From the collection of a Cambridge lady, 1990s.
Condition: Fine condition, patination and earthly encrustation to the surface.

In stock

SKU: LD-634 Category: Tags: ,

The phallus was emblematized to become a symbol of luck or fertility, as well as believed to have apotropaic functions. The fascinus, as the symbol, was in fact so sacred that it governed a local cult of the Roman populace. These pendants were worn protectively by all sorts of people, especially including young children according to Varro and Pliny the Elder. However, nor was the phallus limited to amulet form: the motif is also commonly found on reliefs, frescoes and lamps from the Greco-Roman world. The manus fica (fig hand) was an obscene hand gesture, made by positioning the thumb between the index and middle fingers. Thought to represent female genitalia, it makes a fitting accompaniment to a phallus amulet.

For more information on apotropaic amulets, please read our blog post: Apotropaic Art: Amulets and Phallic Pendants in Ancient Cultures.

Weight 12.9 g
Dimensions W 5.7 x H 1.9 cm



Reference: For a similar item,The Metropolitan Museum, item 60.117.5

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