The figa (also fica or higa) represents an age-old symbol of protection against the evil eye and other demonic threats. Its origins were pagan and buried deep in antiquity. Roman examples, such as one found recently in an archeological excavation in London, also make it clear that the protective qualities are based in a sexual symbolism-particularly the power of the phallus.

In Spain, jet figa are common;  Jet was a very valuable material, and in many examples like this one, the figa is embellished with beautiful enameling or is even gem-studded. Comparable objects occur in equally sumptuous materials such as rock crystal. The enameled setting allows a dating of these objects that otherwise might prove difficult, given that the production of such objects in Spain is so consistent over centuries.

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