Sarah's Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures

by Sarah
(Atlanta, GA)

Italian: Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures

Italian: Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures

Italian: Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures Corno: Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures Sarah's Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures

Sarah’s Sand Tray Therapy Midterm Multicultural Project

Sarah's Multicultural Sand Tray Therapy Class Midterm-Italy Miniatures


The cornuto, corno, or cornicello is an Italian amulet of ancient origin stemming from before the rise of Christianity. Corno means "horn" and cornicello means "little horn". This twisted horn-shaped charm is typically worn in Italy to protect against the evil eye. In ancient times, the evil eye was thought to harm nursing babies, mothers, fruit-bearing trees and sperm through envy or jealousy. Early Italian Christians gave these amulets as christening gifts to protect male infants from Satan. Cornicelli are usually made of red coral, gold, or silver.

The corno shape denotes the ancient European moon goddess, Luna. Early Europeans believed animals' horns that pointed to the moon were sacred. Believers looked to Luna for guidance and protection. Her powers aligned with lunar cycles and fertility. In Catholic symbolism, the Virgin Mary is shown standing on a lunar crescent.

I often see cornos hanging from the rearview mirror of cars in Italy or as jewelry charms. The usage in vehicles derives from the ancient custom of protecting draft horses and mules from the envious eye of strangers. Upon purchasing a new vehicle, people often receive these as a new car gift.


The Trinacria is an ancient three legged design resembling a triskele that is a symbol of the Italian island of Sicily. This symbol is currently on the Sicilian flag and was on the flag of the Isle of Man; a medieval Norman dominion. The name Trinacria comes from the word trinacrios that in Greek means triangle. The Romans used to call it Triquetra (triangle), while the Greek used the name “Triskelion” (three legs). The three points on the Trinacria represent the three capes of Sicily: Cape Peloro, Cape Passero, and Cape Lilibeo. The trinacria is made up of three legs united at the thigh with a face in the middle. Familiar as an ancient symbol of Sicily, the symbol dates back to when Sicily was part of Magna Graecia, the colonial extension of Greece beyond the Aegean.

In the “Odyssey”, Homer called the island of Sicily Trinakie, meaning 'three cornered,' and in the Middle Ages, Frederick of Aragon had himself proclaimed 'King of Trinacria'. The trinacria symbol is also associated with other triads. The Greeks called it Triskele, the Celtics called it Triskelion, and the Romans called it Trinacrium.

The face in the center of the symbol was that of Medusa, whose hair was turned into snakes by the goddess Athena. Medusa was a Gorgon (chthonic monster), and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, ancient marine deities. According to the poet Ovid, Medusa was originally a beautiful maiden and priestess in Athena’s temple, but when she was caught being raped by the "Lord of the Sea" Poseidon, the enraged Athena transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone.

In more recent history, the face on the trinacria was replaced with a woman, perhaps a goddess, with a pair of wings on either side, indicating the eternity of time. She is surrounded by three ears of wheat, symbols of fertility.

Mano Cornuto

The mano cornuto (horned hand) is worn to protect against the malocchio (evil eye) and it represents the horns of an animal formed by the extended index finger and little fingers of the hand. Many Italians wear it as a charm or the gesture may be made with the hand. It is unclear whether the gesture originated as an image of horns or as a “poking out the eyes” gesture, but ancient lunar goddess charms depicting animal horns were used for similar protective purposes and are probably related to the gesture.

The evil eye is believed to harm nursing mothers and their babies, fruit bearing trees, milking animals, and the sperm of men. The Neapolitan custom of making mano cornuto charms from silver (formerly sacred to the moon goddess Luna) and blood coral (formerly sacred to the sea goddess Venus) hints at the cultural survival of a link between the horned animal head gesture and ancient worship of a neolithic-era mother- or fertility-goddess whose consort was a male deity sometimes called the Horned God. Some archaeologists have theorized that the ancient belief in the sacredness of the horned animal head derives from its coincidental resemblance to the female human genitals. Whether or not this is the case, the mano cornuto is still a popular gesture made by Italian men to protect their genitalia from the evil eye.

The sign of the horns has a variety or meanings and uses in various cultures. The use of the horns as a symbol of satanic belief is recent, and is evolved from its use by heavy metal musicians and fans. The horned hand gesture is also used occasionally by Wiccans as a symbol of the “horned God” or as the horns of the Moon Goddess, depending on tradition. In the case of Italian culture, it can mean two different things depending on the direction of the fingers. Pointing the index finger and little finger at someone is a common curse as well as an accusation of having an unfaithful wife. With fingers down, it signifies protection in unlucky situations or from the evil eye.

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