What is the Curniciello? How did it come about? History and meaning

What is the Curniciello How did it come about History and meaning

What is the Curniciello How did it come about History and meaning

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historical origins of the Curniciello

Since ancient times, people used to believe in superstition and in magical powers against evil. They used to fight it with amulets, talismans and many other objects considered to bring fortune.  In Naples this kind of amulet is identified with a “corno” (horn). The history of the “corno” started around the 3500 b.C, during the Neolithic period. This amulet was used by those who lived in the caves with the auspice of bringing fortune and fertility.  As a matter of fact, at that time, the more a community was fertile the more was lucky, and the animal’s horns were symbol of strength, too. During the Greek period, the horn was used as a kind of votive gift for the Goddess Iside, so that the Mother Goddess could be witness of the animal’s procreation.

What is Curniciello: a red-coloured and handmade amulet

Why is the “curniciello” red-coloured? The answer is to be find in the Middle Age, when the colour red had a double-meaning: it, in fact, symbolized the victory upon the enemies, during the battles. Also, it was used in another country such as China and Japan, where it was symbol of good luck.  In Naples, it has adquired a cultural relevance indifferent at all, because its diffusion grew more and more throughout the people, who needed a kind of protection from bad news and everything was considered as evil. This way, the old artisans started to create a little horn with a strange shape: it had to be “tuosto, stuorto e cu a’ punta” (tough, twisted and with the tip) and those who adquired could receive good powers from the hands which created it.

Where to find Curniciello: the streets

Wherever you walk in Naples,  you are surrounded by thousands of “curnicielli” in every single shape and dimension. Whether big or small, each one represents the strong relationship that people have with this city. In particular,  San Gregorio Armeno’s street is full of small shops in which the tradition of the  handmade”curniciello” is still alive. So, if you find yourselves there, don’t miss the chance to buy one of them and give it as a present: maybe good luck could be on your side.

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Chiara De Filippo

Appassionata di viaggi, musica e libri, la scrittura è sempre stata una fonte di ispirazione. Laureata in lingue, nel 2015 ha pubblicato la sua prima traduzione letteraria dall’inglese all’italiano del romanzo ‘Alice Underground’, per la casa editrice Montecovello.

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