A hamsa hand is a talisman used in ancient cultures to bring happiness, good fortune, luck, and good health to the one wearing it. It is primarily used in Middle Eastern cultures, has become increasingly popular.
There are many names this amulet can go by. It is most often referred to as the Hand of God or Miriam’s Hand. Other names people know it by include the hamesh, hamesh hand, khamsa, and chamsa.[toc]
Symbolism of the Hamsa Hand
The general depiction of the hamsa hand has three extended fingers, but both the pinky and the thumb have been seen spread from the others or extended the same way.
In early development of the symbol, the hand did not originally have the eye in the middle of the palm. Later down the road, the eye became a popular symbol of protection, so it was affixed the hamsa hand.
Some designs of the hamsa hand have other symbols within the hand, such as the fish or Hebrew writings. The fish was thought to be lucky and immune to the curses of the evil eye. The word mazel or mazal would be inscribed on amulets, meaning luck.
You can display the hamsa as jewelry, art, home décor, and statues. No matter how it’s chosen to be displayed, the hamsa hand continues to be a token of good luck, happiness, and hope.
Hamsa Hand in Jewelry
When used in jewelry, the hamsa hand can be made with a variety of different metals. It has been seen in copper, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and sterling silver. It is often seen embellished with various diamonds and gemstones.
How do you wear a hamsa hand?
You can find hamsa jewelry with the hand facing upward or downward. There are actually two different meanings to these displays.
- Facing upward – it is meant as a sign to ward off evil. The “stop” display of the sign is meant to stop your own negativity and the negativity of other from entering your thoughts. It is to protect you from anything negative that might affect your and the ones you love.
- Facing downward – it represents richness and goodness. It is a symbol of hope, good health, wealth, and all things positive. The fingers are almost always close together when in this position, inviting good luck to come aboard.
Types of hamsa hands in jewelry
You will most often find the hamsa hand symbol depicted as a pendant. A pendant is an excellent place to display a good omen, close to the heart. Pendants can be held together with a chain, rope, or cord.
You can also see bracelets with the hamsa hand. You don’t see hamsa rings or earrings very often, although they can still be found.
Hamsa hands have also transcended just jewelry and can be found in candles, posters, tapestries, rugs, and other home décor.
Hamsa hands worn by celebrities
Hamsa hands have not only been popular in religious and new age cultures, but Hollywood has also taken to this good luck charm.
Madonna was among the first to be seen wearing a hamsa hand at a party in the form of an oversized pendant. The pendant colored diamonds throughout to total over 9 carats.
Friends superstar Jennifer Aniston also worn a simple yellow-gold diamond hamsa pendant. It is modest both in size and appearance.
Is it Okay for Me to Wear a Hamsa Hand?
In a world where we live as to try not to offend anyone or their culture, one does not need to be Jewish, Islamic, or Christian to adapt and wear a hamsa hand. However, it’s worth noting that you should know what the symbol represents and not just wear it as a fad.
Hamsa should mean something to you personally, whether it represents good faith and fortune, luck, irreverence, hope, or unity. That’s the great part about hamsa. With a symbol so rich in culture and background, it does not belong to just one group of people.
I suppose it could be argued that it is from Eastern culture, which is completely and unequivocally factual. However, the hamsa hand is for everyone religious and non-religious alike. This is one of the reasons the hand stands for unity.
So, is it okay? Absolutely. But make sure you are wearing the sacred symbol with pride and reverence, instead of superficiality and appearance. The hamsa hand deserves that respect.
Where Can I Buy Hamsa Hand Jewelry?
You can find hamsa jewelry at a lot of online jewelry boutiques, new age stores, and even fine jewelry retailers.
History of the Hamsa Hand
The hamsa hand is thought to be a religious symbol within Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, but first uses of the symbol predates these religions. It’s been said that the first early use was by Phoenician culture.
The hamsa hand was crafted after the goddess of the Phoenicians, Tanit. Tanit was the goddess that protected their city and controlled the phases of the moon. The hand was to symbolize Tanit’s protection from the “evil eye”.
They believed the evil eye had the power to curse them and their families, harming them and bringing back luck. The eye has two meanings though, one to cure and one to protect. This is another reason there is an eye on the hamsa hand. People often confuse the eye in some versions of the hamsa hand with the evil eye.
The symbol was passed down to other religious cultures, still carrying the theme of protection.
When Jewish cultures took ahold of the symbol, they renamed the hamsa hand the Hand of Miriam. In the Old Testament, Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron. Moses was an Egyptian-raised Jew and eventually freed his Jewish people under the reign of the Pharoah. His brother Aaron accompanied him on this endeavor and was also his high priest.
The Sephardic Jewish members also made the five fingers on the symbol represent the five books of the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These can also be referred to as the Five Books of Moses. Hamesh is actually the number five in Hebrew, and is how the hamsa hand gained additional names.
In Arabic cultures, the hamsa was believed to ward off the evil eye. It gained the name Hand of Fatima. Fatima was the name of the prophet Muhammed. The five fingers on the hamsa represented the five pillars of Islam. Unlike other cultures, Islamic followers don’t wear the talisman or carry it. Amulets are actually against the Qu’ran, which is the holy book of Islam.
Christianity and Catholicism are popular for divine symbols such as the fish, cross, crucifix, and others. Christians adopted the hamsa hand to represent the hand of Mary. Mary was a normal woman who became the mother of Jesus to Christian cultures, but to Catholics, she was more divine.
Even though the hamsa hand means different things to very different religions, there’s still a common theme. The hamsa hand is a symbol of protection and hope.
I think that the hamsa hand is a fine symbol in our culture today. As a people, we are all moving toward a culturally acceptable world where we want every race, culture, and religion should be tolerated and respected.
Being a symbol heavy laden with a generalized prayer for hope and protection, the hamsa is for everyone. Every one of us could have our own reason for wearing a hamsa, unique to each individual.
But imagine if you were wearing a piece of hamsa jewelry and happened to notice someone on the street wearing a hamsa hand as well. One simple connection, and you already know that someone is hoping for the same things as you. Luck, prosperity, wealth, protection, and positivity. Now that’s something we could all use!
I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with me into the symbolism side of jewelry today. As you can see, the hamsa hand is severely misunderstood. Religious people see it as Satanic, others see it as Hindu, New Age, Wiccan, or other religions. But instead of belonging to one culture, the hamsa hand is part of many cultures.
We can be reminded by the hamsa hand that each of us is unique and even though beliefs may differ, we can be united in the things that are similar. With so many different pieces of hamsa jewelry on the market, you should have no problem in finding your perfect piece. Let us all look to the hamsa hand and believe for good luck, prosperity, and a protection from all things negative that should try to enter our lives.