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In A Feast for Crows, Cat of the Canals works in the fish markets in Braavos. She is taught and has to be very rugged because of the nature of the place - being filled with sailors and rugged men so on.

She learns to show people 'the fig' which is described as some sort of rude hand gesture; I'm assuming that it's the rude finger.

Some details: [A Feast for Crows spoilers]

Cat is actually Arya Stark
Here are a couple of excerpts from the book.

"... a coarse jumble of words and phrases from a dozen languages, accompanied by hand signs and gestures, most of them insulting. Those were the ones that Cat liked best. Any man who bothered her was apt to see the fig ..."
...
"... They bought clams and cockles from her, told her true tales of Braavos and lies about their lives, and laughed at the way she talked when she tried to speak Braavosi. She never let that trouble her. Instead, she showed them all the fig ..."
-A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Cat of the Canals.

Some information I have found is:

Is this correct? What does 'the fig' hand gesture look like?

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"The fig" is an insulting gesture, employed in ancient Greece and still used in France, Italy and other Mediterranean countries today. GRRM obviously felt it was appropriate for Braavos, which has close similarities to a medieval Italian city-state. –  Royal Canadian Bandit Jun 15 at 22:40
    
@RoyalCanadianBandit - also widely used in Russia –  DVK Jun 16 at 5:57
    
@RoyalCanadianBandit definitely not widespread in Italy now, though I can't rule out it is used in some region. –  Lohoris Jun 16 at 13:06
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

"The Fig" is a rude hand gesture, similar to giving someone the finger. It is made by making a fist, with the thumb protruding from between the index and the middle finger. The hand is held in roughly the same position as when giving the finger.

Depending on the region and the context, it can be taken as reference to the female genitalia (a female equivalent to "the finger") or to (a desire to engage in) sexual intercourse.

A picture of the fig sign, by Jeremy Kemp
A picture of the fig sign, by Jeremy Kemp

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Weird thing is that it's described as being used in southern Europe, but it's actually not that uncommon in The Netherlands, usually with the second meaning. –  SQB Jun 16 at 5:59
    
I always thought it was supposed to be the head of a penis emerging from the foreskin?! That's what my History teacher always said, anyway... –  John Smith Optional Jun 19 at 22:33
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"The Fig" is a very rude hand gesture, equivalent to the American "Finger", in many countries (especially Greece).

Here's a Wiki link.

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I'm in Greece 22 years and I've honestly never seen anyone use this thing :P –  Shevliaskovic Jun 15 at 22:41
    
Well, that's what Wiki says, anyway. Maybe you just haven't ticked anyone off that much? –  Joe L. Jun 15 at 23:16
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Possibly better link; more specific to the 'Fig.' –  KHW Jun 16 at 4:28
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Donno about Greece but it's incredibly widely used in Russia/fUSSR –  DVK Jun 16 at 5:57
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