Italian Cimaruta Witch Charm, 19th Century AD
A silver amulet in the form of a sprig of rue with three branches further subdividing to two stalks on each; at the end of each stalk is a symbol comprising: a hand making the mano fico sign, and hand holding a dagger, a snake, the crescent moon with face, a heart, key, rose and cockerel; with three lobed suspension ring. 15 grams, 70mm (2 ¾")
The cimaruta is a very old charm rooted in the lore of Roman polytheism. Like many of the lasting ancient symbols and beliefs the cimaruta design eventually took on symbolic elements of Catholicism. One example of a Christian addition to the design is the appearance of “the sacred heart” of Jesus. The word cimaruta literally means ‘a sprig of rue’, a herb that is highly featured in Italian magic and lore.The branch of the rue is divided into three stems symbolizing the triformis goddess Diana. Rue is one of the sacred herbs of this goddess. Various charms appear on the rue design and each one bears its own meaning. The primary symbols are the moon, serpent, and key. These represent the goddess in her triple form as Hecate (the key), Diana (the moon) and Proserpina (the serpent). This ancient grouping of the goddess appears in the ancient writings of such figures as Lucan. Ovid and Horace also feature the goddess Diana in their writings related to witchcraft. These amulets were mostly produced from the late 18th century up to the present day in Naples, South Italy, where belief in the Evil Eye has remained strong.