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Madonna and Child - Metropolitan Museum - The hand

In this Madonna we saw the impressive appearance of the Nibbio staring at the pea of the child, but remarkable things appear at a deeper level of observation.

The child raises the right hand in a standard expression of blessing. However a closer inspection shows that the middle finger and the index are superposed as indicated by the respective nails. Consequently the hand has six fingers. The sixth one, in the position of the dangerous middle finger, is very large and straight. It represents obviously a penis, with lot of details. The interpretation is supported by the shape of the palm underneath, that has been shaped and plumped to simulate a scrotum. I giggled when I perceived the situation, thinking the sacrilegious mind of Leonardo did strike again.

But the white disk in the middle had to be interpreted; it is thick and actually half a disk. I finally had the right guess observing a small strip on its left that can be interpreted as a tiny handle. The half a disk is actually a palm knife, a very ancient instrument for shepherds, used for opening hanging animals by running the sharpened diameter on their skins. It is also used for castration. The picture takes then the final meaning. Following the tradition of Christian iconography, the martyr exposes the object and the tools of the martyrdom. In this case the knife and the scrotum. The knife is precisely positioned for cutting off the balls. Leonardo had a knack for the details. And strongly resented being impotent due to the numerous rapes by the Nibbio and the ugly five.