We have already talked generally and recently about Italian talismans in a long post in our Blog.

Today we are going to talk specifically about the most powerful of them: the Hornlet and what it means in the Italian tradition.

The History of the Cornicello Necklace (legends and origins) 

The Gold Italian horn charm has been considered to be the best and more powerful amulet for centuries, we could say millennia (somebody says since the Neolithic Era).

What it symbolizes and why it is a good luck amulet 

It does not represent a pepper: there is no point hiding the fact that this Italian lucky charm symbolizes an erect phallus.

Let’s get back to ancient Roman times and specifically in Pompeii and its archeological finds.

The collection, actually in the MANN Museum of Naples, shows a large part of personal amulets usually in the form of pendants.

Shape: Sex as talisman against Evil Eye 

The shape of those trinkets was very important for the protection intent: sexual iconography featured widely, as in the amulet pendants in the form of phalluses or male genitals.

For ancient Romans the male organ (known as the “fascinum”, deriving from “fas” and meaning “propitiatory”) was regarded as a talisman of fecundity and prosperity, which could keep apart from evil influences.

That is why in Pompei, for its talismanic power in bringing prosperity and warding off envy, the phallic symbol was inscribed on walls, pavements or hung up on tablets in the corners of houses.

Materials: Gold and Red Coral for the Ancient Amulets 

These apotropaic symbols were made of materials believed to have special powers against diseases and evil eye: coral, amber, silver, sometimes gold.

  • More in depth:Red Italian Coral has always related to blood, life, love and sexuality, fertility and protection.
  • Yellow Gold has always related to richness, luck, wealth and power

That is why the “Hornlet” lucky charm is still produced with these apotropaic materials: let’s say that coral is more powerful for health and gold is , instead,  meant to bring wealth closer to you.

Red Cornicello with Gold Crown

Have you ever seen a red Italian horn with a golden crown? This talisman has both the powers of those lucky materials: it will make you wealthy and healthy!

The Traditional hand that makes horns

If the horns are two, like in the “Mano Corno”, the lucky power will be doubled!

The Mano Fico

A great and powerful talisman was the gesture of putting the thumb between the index and middle fingers, alluding to copulation: the hands making that gesture is actually called “Mano Fico”.

Italian Horn now: what is the actual Cornicello? 

Everything changed with the coming of Christianity that showed a different approach to sex.  But roots are difficult to be canceled.

The Hornlet (little horn) is the appropriately chaste version of the primal phallic symbol.

Lucky Horn and Christian Religion 

For these reasons it is not something religious, but something more related to superstition: it is not bad luck at all, anyway, wearing an Italian horn with a cross together.

We could speak more in depth about the relations between religion and superstition since they often go hand-in-hand, but I will leave this argument for a future post.

Just know that Italians have horns attached to the driving mirrors of their cars, on their keychains, in some corners of their houses, somebody put this talisman in his baby’s crib.

Legend and traditional beliefs say it should be gifted since you can’t buy health.

My suggestion is: buy yourself a “Cornicello”, maybe it’s just superstition … Maybe it just works!

the biggest hug in the world

Marco Jovon

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If you loved this post, maybe you would like to go in depth with:

  1. Old Italian Coral
  2. The History of Lapislazzuli?
  3. The beauty of turquoise
  4. Why is coral expensive?