Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Our Jeweled Babies in the Buff

Have you seen these babies?

There is a large batch of portraits of naked babies wearing necklaces in my inlaws photo collection, all unidentified. Of Italian or Greek descent or both. I have a few reasons for making this post.

1. Family can help identify some of these babies if they know (And PLEASE comment below if you do!!)
2. Other heritage seekers with Greek or Italian families may have copies of these photos and actually might know who one of these cutie pies is (And PLEASE comment below if you do!)
3. To explore the cultural significance of naked babies wearing (sometimes very peculiar) necklaces (And PLEASE comment below if you have insight!)

So please feel free to explore the photos. Compare with some of your own, if you recognize some of these faces,  and help me learn about these Jeweled Babies in the Buff.

 This Cutie pie above has both earrings and a crucifix, which, of all the necklaces, seems to be the most common, and least peculiar.

This fella, different from the others, has no jewelry and his baby bits are exposed as opposed to the others who are more covered. 

Although the pendant of the necklace is covered, we can see he is still adorned with one, although no earrings are visible. 
 Another little one with his Crucifix visible.

 This is one of the most peculiar of all the necklaces. It seems to have tentacles. 
I've tried to get as close a look as I can, but all I can make out is... tentacles?

This babe's photo was taken at the same studio as the tentacled necklace baby above. You can see the drapings are the same, with the wicker chair underneath. 
  Again, the necklace is there, but I cannot see the pendant.

This one I tried to make as large as possible, so it may run off the page a bit, but I wanted to be able for you to get a close look at the necklace. A crucifix is present along with another piece I can't identify. Also, earrings again on this one. 

 This little sweetie has drop earrings, maybe a bracelet of some kind, and a necklace that has so far differed from everyone elses. A heart with *possibly* a cross in the middle?

Now, these are our non naked babies, but still unidentified and dazzled up in some jewelery.
 This babe, a bit older. Same scruffy fluffy patch of whatever that it... could it be the same studio? Again, drop earrings and necklace, though pendant is hidden. Could it even be the same child, at a later date? Hmm....

This beauty, fully clothed has a large heart pendant. Possibly an older photo of one of the unidentified babies above? I've compared and seen some similarities with one, but I can't, of course, be sure. 

This baby is neither bedazzled nor naked. But nonetheless, still unidentified. 
I didn't want to leave him(her) out.  

  In most instances, these appear to be charms or amulets, some worn as protection from the "Evil Eye" or "Malocchio" The Crucifixes themselves were also worn to ward off evil spirits.
  The photo with the baby that wore the "tentacle" necklace is very likely a chain full of "cuornuciellos"  or little horns worn to protect against the evil eye. The amount of them on the chain makes me think the parents were either being extra protective, or a "test" had been preformed and the infant had been "afflicted" with the Evil Eye.

The Evil Eye, in Greece and Italy, according to Wiki:


The evil eye, known as μάτι (mati), "eye", as an apotropaic visual device, is known to have been a fixture in Greece dating back to at least the 6th century BC, when it commonly appeared on drinking vessels.[24] In Greece, the evil eye is cast away through the process of xematiasma (ξεμάτιασμα), whereby the "healer" silently recites a secret prayer passed over from an older relative of the opposite sex, usually a grandparent. Such prayers are revealed only under specific circumstances, for according to superstition those who reveal them indiscriminately lose their ability to cast off the evil eye. There are several regional versions of the prayer in question, a common one being: "Holy Virgin, Our Lady, if [insert name of the victim] is suffering of the evil eye, release him/her of it." Evil repeated three times. According to custom, if one is indeed afflicted with the evil eye, both victim and "healer" then start yawning profusely. The "healer" then performs the sign of the cross three times, and emits spitting-like sounds in the air three times. A very similar ritual can be found in neighboring Bulgaria.
Another "test" used to check if the evil eye was cast is that of the oil: under normal conditions, olive oil floats in water, as it is less dense than water. The test of the oil is performed by placing one drop of olive oil in a glass of water, typically holy water. If the drop floats, the test concludes there is no evil eye involved. If the drop sinks, then it is asserted that the evil eye is cast indeed. Another form of the test is to place two drops of olive oil into a glass of water. If the drops remain separated, the test concludes there is no evil eye, but if they merge, there is. There is also a third form where in a plate full of water the "healer" places three or nine drops of oil. If the oil drops become larger and eventually dissolve in the water there is evil eye. If the drops remain separated from water in a form of a small circle there isn't. The first drops are the most important and the number of drops that dissolve in water indicate the strength of the evil eye.
There is another form of the "test" where the "healer" prepares a few cloves by piercing each one with a pin. Then she lights a candle and grabs a pinned clove with a pair of scissors. She then uses it to do the sign of the cross over the afflicted whilst the afflicted is asked to think of a person who may have given him the evil eye. Then the healer holds the clove over the flame. If the clove burns silently, there is no evil eye present; however, if the clove explodes or burns noisily, that means the person in the thoughts of the afflicted is the one who has cast the evil eye. As the clove explodes, the evil eye is released from the afflicted. Cloves that burn with some noise are considered to be λόγια - words - someone foul-mouthing you that you ought to be wary of. The burned cloves are extinguished into a glass of water and are later buried in the garden along with the pins as they are considered to be contaminated. (So be careful if you are ever digging in a Greek garden!) Greek people will also ward off the evil eye by saying φτου να μη σε ματιάξω! which translates to "I spit so that I won't give you the evil eye." The shortened version of this is ftoo, ftoo, ftoo. Contrary to popular belief, the evil eye is not necessarily given by someone wishing you ill, but it stems from admiration. Since it is technically possible to give yourself the evil eye, it is advised to be humble.
The Greek Fathers accepted the traditional belief in the evil eye, but attributed it to the Devil and envy. In Greek theology, the evil eye or vaskania (βασκανία) is considered harmful for the one whose envy inflicts it on others as well as for the sufferer. The Greek Church has an ancient prayer against vaskania from the Megan Hieron Synekdemon (Μέγαν Ιερόν Συνέκδημον) book of prayers.


Two handsigns (fig sign and horned sign) used in Italy against the evil eye (1914).
The cornicello, "little horn", is also called the cornetto (little horn) or cornetti (plural), is a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made from gold or silver. The type of horn they are intended to copy is not a curled-over sheep horn or goat horn but rather like the twisted horn of an African eland or a chili pepper.[25]
One idea that the ribald suggestions made by sexual symbols distract the witch from the mental effort needed to successfully bestow the curse. Another is that since the effect of the eye was to dry up liquids, the drying of the phallus (resulting in male impotence) would be averted by seeking refuge in the moist female genitals. Among the ancient Romans and their cultural descendants in the Mediterranean nations, those who were not fortified with phallic charms had to make use of sexual gestures to avoid the eye. Such gestures include the fig sign; a fist with the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers, representing the phallus within the vagina. In addition to the phallic talismans, statues of hands in these gestures, or covered with magical symbols, were carried by the Romans as talismans. In Latin America, carvings of the fist with the thumb pressed between the index and middle fingers continue to be carried as good luck charms.
The wielder of the evil eye, the jettatore, is described as having a striking facial appearance, high arching brows with a stark stare that leaps from his black eyes. He often has a reputation for clandestine involvement with dark powers and is the object of gossip about dealings in magic and other forbidden practices. Successful men having tremendous personal magnetism quickly gain notoriety as jettatori. Pope Pius IV was dreaded for his evil eye, and a whole cycle of stories about the disasters that happened in his wake were current in Rome during the latter decades of the 19th century. Public figures of every type, from poets to gangsters, have had their specialized abilities attributed to the power of their eyes.[26]


If you have looked through the photos and read through the post and find anything to add that would help, or you have your own family experiences in this,  feel free to comment! I would love your input!

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