What is the Hamsa? It is the hand that you see in jewelry, charms, wall art, clothing amulets & mezuzot. Sometimes it has an eye in the center, a fish, or a Star of David, sometimes the hand is facing upwards, sometimes downwards. For centuries the Hamsa has been a symbol of happiness, health, good luck and fortune as well as a protective power from evil.
The word “Hamsa” comes from the root word for the number five in Hebrew and means five referring to the human hand’s five fingers. The number five is considered to possess special magic powers that bring good luck, and five fingers represent an open human hand in a natural motion to protect yourself from an enemy. That’s why a Hamsa amulet serves as a way of averting and getting protection from the evil eye or providing a so called “protective hand”, which symbolizes a “stop sign” to the evil.
The alternative Jewish name for Hamsa is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to Miriam, the sister of Moses. The Muslim community interprets it as the hand of Fatima, the youngest daughter and, according to Shia Muslims, the only child of the Islamic prophet Muhammad . For Hindus and Buddhists, it symbolizes chakras, energy flow in the body, the five senses and the mudras that effect them. And archeological digs in the Middle East provide evidence that the Hamsa pre-dates these religions and originated with the Phoenicians. It was used as a protective symbol for an ancient Middle Eastern goddess. The Hamsa hand has always been associated with a female entity offering protection from evil and misfortune.
Perhaps because if its universal ties, the symbol’s mysterious origins and the superstitions surrounding it, the hamsas appeal endures as an adornment to our lives.