The Hamsa– Up or Down? Which is the Right Way to Wear it?

From “Om” to “Shalom”

diamond hamsa necklace

The Hamsa is one of our most familiar and favorite symbols to wear as fine jewelry. At the moment, we’re just loving this very feminine version (fch39), a small, but very fiery Hamsa pendant, set with diamonds and suspended from links of diamond stations in yellow, rose or white 14 karat gold. It’s not bling-y at all—meaning it doesn’t yell at you from across the room.

 

Instead, it’s sophisticated and chic.

 

Here’s the thing: lots of our customers practice yoga, and this is one of their favorite pieces to wear while in the “Om” space—we have to say, it does look really sleek and modern on a spaghetti-strap tank top. This is truly a cross-cultural moment, because the Hamsa, as we know it, is not a Hindu or Buddhist symbol. The Indian Vedic scriptures have a beautiful tradition of powerful, symbolic hand postures called mudras, but that’s a whole different thing. We think. In any case, here’s the Hamsa, at a yoga studio near you, doing the downward dog and sun salutation.

 

Jews call this hand-shaped amulet the Hand of Miriam. Moslems call it the Hand of Fatima. There are many interpretations of these particular usages.  The hand is often depicted with an eye in the center of its open palm, presumably to ward off negative energies, including the gaze of envy.

 

Berkeley scholar and folklorist, Professor Alan Dundes, incidentally Jewish, studied the origins of the evil eye for decades, and identified the ancient cultures that live along the Sahara as the source of the specific practices and symbols we use to signify the evil eye today. Dr. Dundes concluded that the arid desert landscape itself, in almost permanent drought, created a highly defensive and protective consciousness, where precious moisture, including tears, breast milk and human spit, traditionally took on magical properties.

 

The brilliant and outrageous Dr. Dundes, unfortunately, is no longer with us. So we’ve done our own unofficial survey.

Usually, the Hamsa points down.

But we do offer several pieces where the fingers point up. Some people feel that, like with a horseshoe, the symbol seems “luckier” if the direction is up, not down. Okay. If this is your groove, try our sterling and turquoise-gemmed Hamsa pendant

 

 

 

 

 

Come to think of it, our round disk sterling Hamsa pendant has a serene, lotus-look which makes sense with yogic practice. round hamsa for yoga on amazon

 

 

 

 

Two downward-facing Hamsa pendants that are favorites have the look of the Mediterranean and Middle East – a slender, elongated Hamsa in sterling silver  or diamond dotted version in gold. 

 

Today, we’re truly living in McLuhan’s global village. We eat sushi in Texas. We listen to vintage Rolling Stones anthems in space. So, who’s to say whether the Hamsa should point up or down, or whether it “goes with” yoga?

Wear your Hamsa, and feel safe and empowered in your wonderful place in our amazing world.

So, how do you wear your hamsa?

 

ANTI-AGING JEWELRY?

Oynx and Evil Eye Necklace
Oynx and Evil Eye with Diamond Necklace

 It’s no secret that the “anti-aging” market represents the biggest segment of consumer spending today.  No one wants to grow old gracefully, and today men as well as women spend billions and billions of  dollars trying to keep their skin taut and smooth, their hair gloriously abundant, their bodies firm and perky, even as the decades roll on.

And it’s not just Boomers who are obsessed with staying young. Today everything from pomegranate juice (yum) to exfoliants are marketed as preventive aging, to people in their 20s, as well as to more mature buyers.

Frankly, it’s exhausting. But we do have a suggestion—a Hamsa, an “eye” pendant, or even a piece of jewelry designed after the life-giving pomegranate!

Pomegranante Pendant
Pomegranate Jewlery

The Hamsa is a hand-shaped pendant which has been worn across the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa for millennia. The “eye” of course is an amulet which  resembles an eye, with an equally long history in the same areas of the world.  Both are traditional talismans for protecting the wearer from the so-called  evil eye.

Coincidentally, I suppose, the eyes and the hands are the first parts of our bodies to show our age. These are the two areas where our skin is the thinnest. Because the skin  here is so thin, fine lines and wrinkles show up here first as the result of constant UV exposure, weather, stress and repetitive gestures (smiling, frowning). Hands in particular are tattle-tales when it comes to age, because they contain no oil-glands—they often look older than the rest of us!

Moisture is key to keeping the skin young, as the manufacturers of zillions of skin care brands will tell you. Again, perhaps coincidentally, moisture plays a role in the concept of the evil eye.  The brilliant Dr. Alan Dundes, who taught at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote a landmark essay on the history of the evil eye, observing that the ill effect of the “eye” was always dehydration. He surmised that because the tradition arose in the Middle East, where water has always been scarce, the worst possible thing that could happen would be for an oasis or well to run dry, or  for drought to blight the land, as is happening in Africa today. This would cause your flocks and  orchards to perish. Other metaphorical losses symbolized by moisture-loss—for instance, loss of sexual potency and fertility—are also
associated with the “eye”, and guarded against with the Hamsa and eye amulets.

The aging process really consists of several factors—genetics, stress, conditions, attitude.  Other than a good skin care regimen, especially eye and hand-cream (our favorites: Dermalogica Hand and Nail Treatment, Intensive Eye Repair, Total Eye Carehttp://dermalogica.com), what can really be done? To wear in good health, whatever your age, and to see you safely from one year and one decade to the next, we recommend #gwn-f, a modern silver Hamsa with small “eye”, #ww17,  our Diamond “eye” pendant with your choice of gemstone strands, and for even  juicier protection, try # Pom5, our Ruby Pomegranate necklace, set in 14karat rose gold.

Getting older? Mazel tov—
and go in style.