Magic Scacciaguai on Tap

In nearly every village we visited in Garfagnana, Northern Tuscany, we found community water fountains. Many of them displayed heads of fantastic figures described locally as scacciaguai, benign demons that keep evil away. In a previous post, I explored the magical meaning of these symbolic figures that appeared on hearths, at significant places on pathways, carved on animal yokes, and at these community water sources.

One of the scacciaguai, a demon-like figure with pointed ears, appears on the Colognora water fountain we discovered in 2014.


Two years later, we returned to Garfagnana resumed the scacciaguai hunt. In a fountain house in a deconsecrated Francescan monastery near Pieve Fosciana, we discovered this moss-bearded chap.

The figure is a bit worn, but in a close-up view you can see traces of boar-like tusks (or moustache?) and small pointy ears.


And an elegant fountain at the town of Coreglia Antelminelli, located immediately in front of the Church of San Martino, had a scacciaguai. It dated to 1826. More demons are carved into the surround.


But, the most elegant of the scacciaguai guarded the brass tap.


In that previous post, I speculated that scacciaguai appeared alongside Christian symbols. The Colognora village water fountain has a terracotta plaque of an angel above the demonic figure, and both the Pieve Fosciana and Coreglia Antelminelli scacciaguai figures are found in or adjacent to sacred spaces. Water was too vital a resource to leave unprotected.

Magic: The Daily Post’s Weeky Photo Challenge.


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