Magic gestures of disapproval in Greece, ancient and modern

During the recent Greek protests we notice the extensive use of “faskelo” or “mountza”. This is an open palm gesture directed against the person you would like to insult. The protesters have been using it against the building of the parliament. See example hereβουλη+μουντζα
The origin of this gesture is contested. Some say it derives from the ancient Greek word sfakelo (spasm). Allegedly, it was used to cause disease to the adversary. Others believe that the gesture has Byzantine origins. It is, thus,connected to mountza, the act of smearing someone’s face with ashes. Either way, in modern Greece it is insulting and should be avoided at all cost. Its employment in current political affairs can only indicate the desperation of the crowds. If democratic procedures are not working, then magical acts may be more efficient.

Economic historian and numismatic consultant

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