Italy Ethnography Part II

By | February 17, 2022

Hamlets. – Common in various places on the peninsula is the use of small gold rings, which men wear to their ears and which are sometimes reduced to just one for the right ear, as in Vodnjan in Istria. But this kind of earrings which, it is said, serve to keep the eyes sharp, do not have the character of real ornaments, but of amulets.

According to Themeparktour, the use of these (see amulet) is widely spread among the people, although not uniformly. In the innumerable mass appear weapons and lithic tools of the prehistoric epochs, commonly known with the names of “thunder”, “lightning”, or “lightning”; pebbles of different nature indicated, according to their office, with the names of pregnant stones, silt stones (agates), blood stones or sanguinelle (colored jasper), star stones (polyporite); skeletal leftovers (wild boar defenses, wolf tusks, hedgehog jaws, deer and mouflon horns, cock spurs, fox nails, etc.), animal skin fragments, wolf species; tufts of hair (badger, billy goat); sea ​​shells; woods (holly, etc.), roots, fruits (three-kernel walnuts), leaves and flowers; as well as metal objects of various shapes (croissants, medals, frogs, phallic hands, etc.). A special power is attributed to each amulet against natural phenomena (lightning, hail, etc.) or against evil (invoice, etc.), to propitiate one’s fate or to cure ills. Bellucci expressed the distribution of the amulets by assigning 5% to the northern provinces, 20% to the central ones, and 75% to those of the south. But these figures have a very relative value, because the Bellucci collection, on which they are based, does not represent the result of researches methodically carried out in the different regions. Bellucci himself was able to demonstrate the persistence of amulets dating back to either the first (raptor bones, deer antler ends, fox or dog canine teeth, pig teeth, shrimp claws or pincers, etc.) or the second iron age (forms of fish, etc.

Ex-voto. – Expressions of popular religiosity (see vote) the ex-votos consist of offerings, for graces received, to the tutelary saints or patrons, or venerated for their special attributions (S. Paul because he preserves, from the bites of reptiles; S. Rocco from the plague; St. Lucia from the evil eyes, etc.). The offerings are varied: money, candles, flowers, fruits, cereals, clothes and other objects, including the characteristics of the wax, plaster and silver figures reproducing the organs healed by divine intercession.

Among the people of the villages similar vows are also made in the form of loaves, which are carried in the church or in procession, on the feast day of the saint; without mentioning the devotional loaves which are manipulated differently, in the form of eyes, breasts, throat, beard, horseshoe, oxen, sheep, snakes, etc., in honor of S. Lucia, S. Agata, S. Biagio, S. Giuseppe, S. Eligio, S. Antonio, S. Nicola, S. Zoca, S. Paolo, etc. Among the countless objects that appear in the ex-votos, there is no shortage of weapons, broken oars, broken anchors, funeral boxes and other offerings from veterans, shipwrecked people, the infirm miraculously restored to health. But the most characteristic ex-votos are the votive pictures, wooden or tin tables that show the scene of the miracle or prodigy with the figure of the invoked saint at the top. Ex-votos are also offered for pets. Typical are the two horse feet in wax, by Pitrè collected in the Ethnographic Museum of Palermo.

Tattoos. – They survive in Italy, in some social category. They take the form of emblems, badges, brands, depending on the reason, ranging from love to hatred, from lust to shame, from faith to superstition. Hierarchical tattoos are found among the aggregates of secret criminal associations; professional tattoos among artisans and in low social categories (the anchor in Sicily is the badge of sailors, the carpenters’ saw, etc.); religious tattoos (the signs of the passion of Jesus Christ, the monstrance, the cross with rays, the figure of the patron, etc.), in various categories of devotees. Worthy of note, in Sicily, are the tattoos reproducing the effigy of the souls of the departed, and in the Marches those of the pilgrims to the Holy House of Loreto, representing the symbols of the Passion, the SS. Sacrament, the Cross, the Heart with cross, the SS. Trinità, the Addolorata, the Madonna del Santuario. Tattoo-amulets are those in the form of a horseshoe or a phallic hand; of hatred those in the form of hearts bitten by snakes; of vengeance those in the form of skulls, halters, coffins, etc.

For other important manifestations of Italian ethnography and folklore, see Carnival; carriage and carriage (the Sicilian cart; the sacred chariots); parties; insignia (popular insignia); masks; etc.

Ethnographic collections. – Of all the ethnographic museums, the most notable, due to its national character and the number of objects it contains, is the Museum of Italian Ethnography founded by L. Loria in Florence in 1906, registered in 1923 and transferred to the Villa d ‘ Este in Tivoli. On the other hand, the Sicilian Ethnographic Museum organized in Palermo by G. Pitrè has a regional character; the Ethnographic Museum of Carnia, in formation in Tolmezzo, curated by M. Gortani; the Bellucci Museum, which preserves, in Perugia, the Italian amulets and ex-votos collected by Bellucci himself; the Lunigiana Ethnography Section, formed by G. Podenzana in the Civic Museum of La Spezia; and various other regional sections that appear in the museums of Forlì, Cagliari, etc.

Italy Ethnography 2