Meaning of Hamsa Hand Symbol
The Meaning of the Hamsa Hand
The Hamsa Hand is a common, Middle Eastern symbol that is believed to offer happiness, good fortune, peace and protection. The owner of the Hamsa Hand is said to be protected from negative energies, especially from the Evil Eye or "Ayin Ha'ra" - a malicious glare cast by other people which brings misfortune, general unluckiness, illness or death.
The meaning of the Hamsa Hand and its interpretation varies from culture to culture, but it is always a positive and peaceful symbol that provides protection for its owner. It is also known by different names within separate cultures. Some of these names include the Hand of Fatima, the Khamsa, Hand of Miriam and the Hand of Mary. The symbol is generally associated with a female entity that provides protection and strength, but it can also symbolize the Hand of God.
What Does the Hamsa Hand Look Like? - The Hamsa Hand is shaped as an open right palm and generally depicted in two styles. The first looks just like a regular hand with a thumb and pinkie finger, while the second, more popular style depicts a hand with two symmetrical thumbs. An open palm is universally recognized as a symbol of protection as well as representing strength, blessings and power. There are also much more stylized depictions of the Hamsa which include five circles, which represent the fingers of the hand, placed around a central circle, which represents the open palm.
The hand can be worn with the fingers either facing up or down and is often worn as an amulet on a necklace. The meaning of the Hamsa Hand is different depending on which way the fingers face. When worn facing down, the Hamsa lets more goodness, luck, fertility and abundance into your life. When the hand is worn facing up, it is a more powerful symbol of protection against the Evil Eye and negative energy.
The meaning of the Hamsa Hand can also vary depending on what symbols are depicted within the hand itself. The centre of the Hamsa is often filled with another symbol to represent a more specific meaning or offering for the owner. The most common symbols found within the hand are eyes and fish.
- Hand with Eye:
One of the most common depictions is the 'hand with eye' design. The eye in the centre of the Hamsa Hand offers further protection for the owner as it "sees everything".
- Hand with fish:
A fish symbol is also quite commonly found on the Hamsa as fish symbolize good luck. Fish are also immune to the effects of the Evil Eye as they live in water, so having a fish symbol on the Hamsa also provides more protection for the wearer.
The Hamsa Hand is often found on pieces of jewelry and is very popular in both Middle Eastern and Western cultures. It is often found in the form of an amulet, with the Eye and Hirz (a silver box which holds verses of the Quran). You also find the Hamsa Hand depicted on key rings, home decor items, and wall art.
The History of the Hamsa Hand
While the Hamsa Hand has been used in Judaism and the Islamic faith for hundreds of years, it dates back all the way to the Phoenicia civilization (2500 - 539 BC). It was used to represent the hand of the goddess Tanit to help ward off the Evil Eye and provide protection.
The Hamsa Hand can then be traced back through the Islamic and Jewish faiths. The use of the hand in the Judaism dates back to Biblical times as it was referenced as the "strong Hand of God" in Deuteronomy. In the Ten Commandments , the “strong hand” is interpreted as the Hamsa and symbolizes the helping hand of God.
The Hamsa Hand Symbolism In Different Cultures
The meaning of the Hamsa Hand, and what it represents, varies throughout different cultures and religions. The hand is used as a symbol in Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism and each faith holds a different interpretation and symbology for it. The word "hamsa" or "hamesh" translates to the number five, which has special symbolic meaning in both the Jewish and Islamic faiths.
Judaism - In Judaism, the Hamsa is also referred to as the Hand of Miriam, to represent the sister of Moses and Aaron. It also symbolizes the Hand of God, the five books of the Torah, and the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, "Hey", which is one of God's holy names. The symbol, and its association with the number five, remind the owner of the Hamsa to use their five senses when they praise God. The Hamsa Hand is a very holy and respected symbol in the Jewish faith and is commonly used in marriage contracts, or “Ketubah”, as well as during Passover.
Islam - In the Islamic faith, the Hamsa is called the Hand of Fatima, after the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. The five fingers of the hand also represent the Five Pillars of Islam, particularly by the Sunni denomination, while the Shia see it as a symbol of the Five People of the Cloak.
Christianity - In Christianity, the meaning of the Hamsa Hand symbolizes strength, power and femininity. It is referred to as the Hand of Mary, after the Virgin Mary, and is usually depicted with a fish symbol in the center.
Buddhism - The Buddhist faith believes that the Hamsa symbolizes the different senses, chakras and energies that flow within one's body. Each finger represents a different element, or chakra, which include the fire, air, ethereal, earth and water elements, as well as the solar plexus, heart, throat, root, and sacral chakras.
The Hamsa Hand is also the national symbol of Algeria due to its significance in the Berber and Arabic cultures. It even appears in the country's emblem.
Recently, the Hamsa Hand has been adopted by peace activists in the Middle East, where there is ongoing war and conflict. The Hamsa is used not only as a symbol of peace, but to show the similarities between religions. People of both Jewish and Arab cultures wear the Hamsa to bring people together and highlight the common ground shared by their religions.
Shelly La Mar
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August 28, 2020
Thank you for the lesson on the meaning of hamsa. I love the symbol but didn’t want to get it until I knew the meaning bc I don’t want to offend anyone. Thanks!