What is a Figa?

Gem Gossip is one of my favorite jewelry blogs I follow. It has a strong focus on vintage and antique jewelry, which is an area I’m always looking to learn more about. Danielle, the talented writer, recently posted an article about different ways she was styling her figa charms. I was totally into it! Here’s an image from her article. And I was left with, “I love this, and what the heck is a figa?!”


How Danielle, from Gem Gossip, is styling her figas
How Danielle, from Gem Gossip, is styling her figas

When I started researching what a figa is, I learned it’s quite the controversial symbol. Properly called the “mano fico,” this is an Italian symbol going back centuries. (Must be my half-Italian side that was drawn to this!) The symbol is a closed fist, with the thumb going through the index and middle fingers. It is a representation of a woman’s genitalia and sex, to be blunt. It is said to ward off the “evil eye” and bring protection to the wearer. Basically, the gesture is supposed to be so offensive that it scares off the “evil.” Interestingly, Brazil and Portugal also see this amulet as a good luck symbol. BUT…much of the world sees this as a very obscene gesture, basically the equivalent of giving someone the finger. (Note to self, never wear this in Turkey, South Africa, France or Russia.)

Of course, I had to have one too, so off I went to Esty where I found a lovely vintage rock crystal figa from MindiLynJewelry. If you follow my blog, you know I’m a complete rock crystal addict! (My body actually craves it.)

rock crystal figa charm
The first thing I did was to style it similarly to how Danielle did hers. I, too, have a vintage gold Italian horn. I then added a goddess charm that brings a smile to my face, which I think makes for a fun trio. I will say that this mix produces a bit of noise, which I noticed anytime I moved during acupuncture. (But it was a happy sound.)

trio of charms
The next day, I layered this same trio with a longer necklace. This one is a moonstone beaded necklace from Flying Lizard with a Dominique Cohen pendant. I like the combo.

layering necklaces
And thanks to this experiment (and Danielle), now I’ve got a new love of “the figa,” as if I needed one more jewelry crush…It’s a good thing this Victorian wooden figa is already sold. It’s wearing a bracelet for goodness sake — how cool is that?!

victorian figa pendant

20 thoughts on “What is a Figa?”

  1. Wow, Amy, a new type of jewelry you didn’t know about. That’s very exciting. Wonder how many others are out there? Really interesting article?

    1. You know I always love learning about new types of jewelry! I’m so glad Danielle wrote about it and got my research bug going.

  2. Very interesting! I love your combo layering.You always find pieces that have secret meanings or messages. That is cool. But, so are you Amy. //(*_*)\\

      1. I once read (when? where?) that only very strong women can wear several moonstones at once without falling apart. Something about their overwhelming power. I’ve got to find that reference!

  3. I am curious to know if men can wear the mano Figa. I have a black one with a gold key, bracelet and top. My mother is Brazilian and I currently wear it with a gold cross on a gold chain also from Brasil. Thanks.

    1. I say go for it! If it makes you happy and it works with your personal style, then that’s what is important. Thanks for writing.

  4. My paternal grandparents came from Portugal, and when I was very young my grandmother gave me one that was given to her when she was a child. I was always told that if a child was born with her hand like that, she would have good luck in her life, the implication being that they gave the charm to children who weren’t born with their hands like that.

  5. I am 100% portuguese and I wear the Figa everyday around my neck. It’s meant to ward off evil just like “horn” that Italians wear. While we don’t recognize the horn in our culture we understand it’s meaning to be the same as the Figa. Figas are given to kids by their elders (parents, grandparents, godparents etc.) to show they want you protected from anything evil. We don’t see it as an obscenity at all 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment, Stacy! I agree with you 100%! I love the horns from my Italian heritage, and I wear my figa in the same way. 🙂

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