Hamsa Hand Ring – Size 6
Hamsa Hand Ring
- Hamsa Hand Ring – .7x.5x.125′
The Hamsa is variously known as the Hand of Fatima after the daughter of the prophet Muhammad, the Hand of Mary, the Hand of Miriam, and the Hand of the Goddess.
The Hand (Khamsa), particularly the open right hand, is a sign of protection that also represents blessings, power, and strength, and is seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye. One of the most common components of gold and silver jewelry in the region, historically and traditionally, it was most commonly carved in jet or formed from silver, a metal believed to represent purity and hold magical properties. It is also painted in red on the walls of houses for protection or painted or hung on the doorways of rooms, such as those of an expectant mother or new baby. The hand can be depicted with the fingers spread apart to ward off evil, or as closed together to bring good luck. Similarly, it can be portrayed with the fingers pointing up in warding, or down to bestow blessings. Highly stylized versions may be difficult to recognize as hands and can consist of five circles representing the fingers, situated around a central circle representing the palm.
Used to protect against the evil eye, a malicious stare believed to be able to cause illness, death, or just general unluckiness, hamsas often contain an eye symbol. Depictions of the hand, the eye, or the number five in Arabic (and Berber) tradition are related to warding off the evil eye, as exemplified in the saying.
Due to its significance in both Arabic and Berber culture, the hamsa is one of the national symbols of Algeria and appears in its emblem. It is also the most popular among the different amulets (such as the Eye and the Hirz—a silver box containing verses of the Quran) for warding off the evil eye in Egypt.
Although significant in Arabic and Berber culture, the Jewish people have long interpreted and adopted the symbol of the hand with great importance since the Ten Commandments. A portion of these commandments states that “Lord took Israel out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm”. The “strong hand” is representative of the hamsa which rooted its relevance in the community then. The helping hand exemplified God’s willingness to help his people and direct them out of struggle. Around the time of the Byzantine period, artists would depict God’s hand reaching from up above. God’s hand from heaven would lead the Jewish people out of struggle, and the Jews quickly made a connection with the hamsa and their culture. The hand was identified in Jewish text and acquired as an influential icon throughout the community.
Amongst the Jewish people, the hamsa is a very respected, holy, and common symbol. It is used in the Ketubah, or marriage contracts, as well as items that dress the Torah such as pointers, and the Passover Haggadah. The use of the hand as images both in and out of the synagogue suggests the importance and relevance that the Jewish people associated with the hamsa. The hand decorated some of the most religious and divine objects and has since emerged from its uncommon phase.
At the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, the hamsa became a symbol in everyday Israeli life, and to a degree, a symbol of Israel itself. It has come to be a symbol of secularity, and a trendy talisman; a “good luck” charm appearing on necklaces, keychains, postcards, telephone and lottery cards, and in advertisements. It is also a commonly used symbol by Jews outside of the Middle East, particularly in Jewish communities of the United States.
Similar to the Western use of the phrase “knock on wood” or “touch wood”, a common expression in Israel is “Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa, tfu, tfu, tfu”, the sound for spitting, supposedly to spit out bad luck.
The symbol also is used in several Indian religions. In Hinduism and Buddhism, besides carrying the meaning of protection against the evil eye, the symbol is also used to represent the interplay of the body’s chakras.
The Native American Southeastern Ceremonial Complex also contained images of a human hand with an eye in the palm. However, the meaning and purpose are unconfirmed.