One of our most popular jewelry motifs is the Hamsa, or protective hand. This icon is used as an amulet by many Middle Eastern people.
Of course, we see it created in silver, gold, bronze, diamonds, pewter, glass, as a personal ornament. I have also seen it woven into lush Turkish rugs, and painted on gorgeous fountain-tiles in North Africa. As you know from previous blogs, especially in the desert, protection and well-being are linked symbolically to having easy access to water.
I have heard the Hamsa called the Hand of Miriam, as well as the Hand of Fatima, depending upon who wears it. I have seen it displayed with the fingers pointing up, and pointing down, although the fingers pointing down in my experience is more common.
Sometimes, as in our alluring “Middle Eastern Necklace” (our item # art-m), the hand and fingers are stylized to abstraction, though we know the protective powers are still there!
It’s intriguing to know that the icon of the hand extends beyond our immediate frame of cultural reference. “The Mano Poderosa”, or Hand of Power, is often portrayed in Latin Roman Catholic sacred art, especially religious art from Spain and Mexico.
Scholars say that Buddha first made this gesture when he became enlightened. Prophets and saints of many other spiritual paths also are often depicted with their right hand in this position.
Coincidence? Doesn’t seem likely. In any case, enjoy this universal symbol of protection from harm.