For centuries, the hamsa has been an amulet of protection for religions as varied as Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Paganism. In recent years, with the rise of Kabbalah, its popularity has increased and we not only see it in decoration, but also in jewelry and as the perfect gift for friends and family. But, did you know that the first sightings of this symbol are from the Mesopotamian era? And that its usage by some Arab and Jewish activists is interpreted as an act of support for peace in the Middle East?
Below, we will show you five things you must know about this important symbol.
The Hamsa began to be used millennia ago
It is believed that the first sighting of the hamsa symbol comes from ancient Phoenicia, around the year 1500 B.C.E. The image represented Tanit, the patron goddess of Carthage, capital of Phoenicia, who was believed to ward off the evil eye. However, each religion that recognizes the symbol has created its own folklore and meaning behind its origin.
The Hamsa is a symbol of protection for several religions
Besides Jews, Muslims and Christians have paid their respects to the Hamsa, integrating it as part of its iconography. In each religion, the Hamsa represents the hand of a woman, offering protection and fertility to its believers. In the case of Islam, it is known as the Hand of Fatima, honoring the daughter of Mohammed. There is a large hand representing a hamsa in the Gate of Judgment of the Alhambra, a 14th century Islamic fortress located in Spain.
Some historians have also seen a connection between the Hamsa and Christian faith, as the shape of the hand is similar to the way early Virgin Mary’s art representations portrayed her hands, as in a “fig” pose. however, there isn’t a definite proof of this link. Judaism also gives a particular meaning to the Hamsa, associating it with the Hand of Miriam, the sister of Moses.
Today, some Muslim and Jewish peace activists have used the Hamsa as a symbol of peace and union for all the countries in the Middle East. They attempt to link the common respect for the symbol as a way to bring together conflicting nations for peace.
Every element of the Hamsa has a particular meaning
The most popular representation of the Hamsa shows the five fingers extended, but with the thumb and pinky fingers in a symmetrical shape and a slight curve outwards. Commonly it also includes an eye, as protection against the evil eye. Sometimes, you can also see a simple fish symbol, as another omen of protection for the user.
The number five has a special connection with the Hamsa
The number five holds a particular meaning with the Hamsa, starting with its name. The number five is pronounced as Hamesh in Hebrew, representing the five books that comprise the Torah. Also, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “Heh”, one of God’s holy names. It serves as a reminder for Jews to use their five senses while praising Him.
For Muslims, the fingers of the Khamesh represent the five pillars of Islam; in particular, the Shi’ites believe they represent the five people of the Cloak (Mohammed, his daughter Fatima, her husband Ali and their two grandsons). Even though the religion forbids the use of charms and amulets, it’s still recognized as an important symbol for the faith.
Whether it’s used for fashion, home decor, protection or as a bearer of peace, the Hamsa has been respected for centuries as a symbol of good luck and safety. Keeping one in the household or nearby will also serve as a remainder of maintaining our faith and practicing it through our good actions.
Tell us in the comments, how would you wear our Hamsas?
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