THE HAMSA HAND
The hamsa hand (Arabic) or hamesh hand (Hebrew) is an old and
still popular apotropaic amulet for
magical protection from the envious or evil
eye. The words hamsa and hamesh mean "five" and refer to the
digits on the hand. An alternative Islamic name for this charm is
the Hand of Fatima, in reference to the daughter of Mohammed. An
alternative Jewish name for it is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to the sister of Moses and Aaron.
hand appears both in a two-thumbed, bilaterally symmetrical form,
as shown, and in a more natural form in which there is only one
thumb. There is good archaeological evidence to suggest that the
downward-pointing protective hamesh / hamsa hand predates both
Judaism and Islam and that it refers to an ancient Middle Eastern
goddess whose hand (or vulva, in other images) wards off the evil
The hamsa hand at the top left of this page is a 2 inch long modern
reproduction of an older piece, manufactured in pewter; the original was silver and of Arabic
origin. For another example of an Arabic hamsa hand amulet, see
Wills's Cigarette Card #17,
The Crescent and Hand. For an early 20th century French
hamsa hand, see the good luck
postcard featuring a European charm bracelet.
At the top right of this page is a vintage Jewish hamesh hand, or Hand of Miriam,
contained within a Star of David and surrounded by six
eyes. This pendant is of unknown age and was bought used in 2001 at a "car boot sale" (an open car-trunk sale) by a man named
Marc Beaumont (email@example.com), who then posted its image to the internet.
Embossed on the wrist of the hand are the rather blurry English
letters MIRY or MARY; either spelling is equivalent to the
Hebrew name Miriam.
The protective hamsa hand pendant charm at right is from Egypt. A diminutive
1" x 1 1/2" in size, this stamped tin Hand of Fatima features translucent
bright blue enamel overlay and
design for protection. It is
double-sided, yet light-weight enough to wear as an earring.
Although most hamsa hands are amulets, modern Israeli hamesh
hands are sometimes made in the form of ceramic wall plaques in
which a hand-lettered Hebrew prayer occupies the center of the
palm. These include variants that
seek to prevent earthquakes as well as forestall
overlooking by the evil eye.
Hamsa hand plaques, usually made of turquoise-glazed pottery,
are also found in modern Egypt. I don't have one to show you here,
but they resemble other anti-evil-eye plaques from Egypt, such
as one in my collection with a
blue horseshoe for luck and blue beads for
magical protection from the evil
Because the hamsa or hamesh hand protects against the evil
eye, the design in some examples merges into another design called
the eye-in-hand motif. In those instances,
a realistic or stylized eye appears in the center of the palm of the hand.
From modern Egypt comes the filigree-style metal hamsa hand key
ring at left. It is set with a glass "eye" in the palm and has little metal
danglers on each of the fingers.
The blue glass eye in its palm means
that the key ring does
double-duty as both a hamsa hand and as an eye-in-hand. It is not a "jewelry quality" piece of work, just an
ordinary trinket, but it is useful in warding off the envious gaze of those who might
be paying attention to one's car.
At left is a Hamsa Hand wall hanger from Egypt.
About 3" x 3 1/2" in size, it is made of stamped silvery-coloured metal covered with a transparent
wash of bright blue enamel paint that gives it a lovely "dimensional" effect. It
is fitted with a central blue glass eye-applique, which makes it an
eye-in-hand design, and it
also has a bunch of little "danglers" for added protection. It comes with a
silvery-coloured metal chain, and can be
hung in a car from the rear-view mirror or on a wall at home, either near the door or over a
baby's bed, where it will ward off the evil eye.
The back is unpainted; if it is to be hung where it can be seen from both sides, glue two together
back-to-back; they fit together perfectly. The maker of these hamsa hands
also makes a similar stamped metal
all-seeing eye wall hanger.
Order an Egyptian Hamsa Hand Amulet from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
For other hand charms, see:
hand of Power, Roman
hamsa hand, Jewish and Moslem
hamsa hand and crescent amulet, Arabic
Helping Hand (of God), hoodoo
Helping Hand on hoodoo votive candle
Helping Hand on Lucky Mon-Gol Curio Number XI
Lucky Hand root
Lucky Hand Alleged Indian Grandma formula
mano cornuto (horned hand)
mano fico (fig hand)
mano fico hand on a South American package amulet
Mano Poderosa, the Powerful Hand (of God), Catholic
Mano Poderosa on Catholic votive candles
"weaver's hand" in South American charm vial
"weaver's hand" in a Peruvian package amulet
milagro hand in Mexican snow-globe pyramid of luck
"mojo hand" as alternative name for conjure bag
copyright © 1995-2013 catherine yronwode. All rights reserved.
Send your comments to: cat yronwode.
Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to catherine yronwode for the creation and maintenance of this site.
Here are some other LUCKY MOJO web sites you can visit:
OCCULTISM, MAGIC SPELLS, MYSTICISM, RELIGION, SYMBOLISM
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode: a materia magica of African-American conjure
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
The Lucky Mojo Esoteric Archive: captured internet text files on occult and spiritual topics
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, and more
Free Love Spell Archive love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
Free Money Spell Archive money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
Free Protection Spell Archive protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races
Hoodoo and Blues Lyrics: transcriptions of blues songs about African-American folk magic
EaRhEaD!'S Syd Barrett Lyrics Site: lyrics by the founder of the Pink Floyd Sound
The Lesser Book of the Vishanti: Dr. Strange Comics as a magical system, by cat yronwode
The Spirit Checklist: a 1940s newspaper comic book by Will Eisner, indexed by cat yronwode
Fit to Print: collected weekly columns about comics and pop culture by cat yronwode
Eclipse Comics Index: a list of all Eclipse comics, albums, and trading cards
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course with cat yronwode: 52 weekly lessons by email
Hoodoo Conjure Training Workshops: hands-on rootwork classes, lectures, and seminars
Lucky Mojo Community Forum: an online message board for our occult spiritual shop customers
Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour Radio Show: learn free magic spells via podcast download
Lucky Mojo Newsletter Archive: subscribe and receive discount coupons and free magick spells
Follow Us on Facebook: get company news and product updates as a Lucky Mojo Facebook Fan
The Lucky Mojo Curio Co.: spiritual supplies for hoodoo, magick, witchcraft, and conjure
Herb Magic: complete line of Lucky Mojo Herbs, Minerals, and Zoological Curios, with sample spells
Mystic Tea Room Gift Shop: antique, vintage, and contemporary fortune telling tea cups
catherineyronwode: the eclectic and eccentric author of many of the above web pages
nagasiva yronwode: tyaginator, nigris (333), nocTifer, lorax666, boboroshi, Troll, !
Liselotte Erlanger Glozer: illustrated articles on collectible vintage postcards
Jackie Payne: Shades of Blues: a San Francisco Bay Area blues singer
Lucky Mojo Site Map: the home page for the whole Lucky Mojo electron-pile
All the Pages: descriptive named links to about 1,000 top-level Lucky Mojo web pages
How to Contact Us: we welcome feedback and suggestions regarding maintenance of this site
Make a Donation: please send us a small Paypal donation to keep us in bandwidth and macs!
SEARCH ALL OF LUCKY MOJO
There are 6,000 web pages at Lucky Mojo. You can search for a single word (like mojo, hoodoo, pagan,
or magick) or an exact phrase (like love spells, witchcraft supplies, or rootwork course):
OTHER SITES OF INTEREST
Arcane Archive: thousands of archived Usenet posts on religion, magic, spell-casting, mysticism, and spirituality
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: psychic reading, conjure, and hoodoo root doctor services
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic, plus shopping
Crystal Silence League: online prayer request network; upload your prayers here and pray for the welfare of others
Garden of Joy Blues: former 80 acre hippie commune near Birch Tree in the Missouri Ozarks
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Hoodoo Psychics: Instant telephone readings with gifted rootworkers; 1-888-4-HOODOO; All Calls $3.99 per minute
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith; prayer-light services; Smallest Church in the World
Mystic Tea Room: tea leaf reading, teacup divination, and a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Satan Service: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including ex-slave narratives & interviews
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Yronwode Institution: the Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology