Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/156

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1 34 The Cimaruta :

compound charm — of some complexity — built up of parts which all add to the virtue of the charm.

By a compound charm is here meant one that has arisen from the blending together of originally separate amulets. Every single element of the cimaruta is known to exist separately and to function as a charm with properties more or less distinct from those of the other elements. Traces of such separate origin are still to be found in many cimarzite, in which loops are attached to the individual elements. These loops are purposeless in the composite form, and can only be explained like the " rudimentary organs " or vestigial structures of living organisms, since they are derived from the functional loops of suspension of ancestral simple amulets.

Notwithstanding the varied proportions and positions of the component parts of the cimaruta, a certain uniformity of plan is always conspicuous, but in its modifications it is an excellent instance of the laws of evolution. The result of repeated copying has been that certain portions of some charms have undergone a gradual process of reduction, and this no doubt would have continued until the whole design had become absolutely conventional were it not for the fact that the efficacy of the charm would be im- paired by too great a departure from the prototype. The requirements of technique and of decorative art have also played a part in the production of series of interest- ing variations. Rarely are private marks and badges introduced.

Typical cimarute measure about three inches long by two inches broad. At the present day they are invariably made of silver, but in ancient times other metals seem to have been employed, for the Etruscan amulet depicted by Mr. Elworthy (Evil Eye, Fig. i6i) seems to have been a cimaruta, and is of bronze (PI, XL), Nowadays the silver is so essential a part of the charm that the prudent purchaser will not take one unauthenticated by a hall-mark, and he