A Short History of the Hamsa Hand and the Hamsa Symbol

Symbols are not just pictures or a mere imitation of the real thing. Since time immemorial, symbols are believed to be given power either from a powerful god or deity. Sometimes it is the manifestation from faith and powerful emotions of human beings themselves. All these symbols are always known to bring good fortune and even prosperity at times. One such symbol is the Hamsa Hand or the Hand of God that is said to deliver protection from evil and negative energy. 

Like most widespread traditions and symbols, the origin of the Hamsa Hand cannot be confirmed in one location as far as history is concerned. It can, however, be traced to religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The reason why the influence of God is denoted by a hand is due to the relevance of this symbol in holy books, such as the ‘Hand of God’ that shields all those who follow Him. This Hand is also popularly depicted with an eye to signify the Eye of God that always stays watchful.

There are many debates over the origin of the Evil Eye talismans like the Hamsa. Some experts believe that the Hand can be traced back to Mesopotamia, or even Egypt, or Tunisia in the form of worshipping Goddess Tanit. This is possible as many religions pre-dating the ones already mentioned have links to worship systems that are related to eyes and hands. For example, the Evil Eye in Egypt is depicted by an eye-shaped symbol said to symbolize the Eyes of Ra and Horus. It can also be traced back to Old Greek and Roman traditions where the eyes are where the intentions of the soul can seep out into the world. Such talismans come in many forms including earrings, necklaces, and bracelets (see Evil Eye Bracelet)

A possible source of the Hamsa is the two-fingered amulet also from Egypt. It is supposed to symbolize Horus and Isis and is represented by two closed fingers of the index and the middle finger. So the theory that this could be a pagan symbol that was later adopted into major world religions is not exactly far-fetched.

Besides, there are also other religions that use the symbol of the Hand to mean something positive and spiritual. Take, for example, the Hand of Buddha in Buddhism, which makes a series of finger gestures to connect to the five chakras of the body to bring balance and peace. The mudra finger gesture known as the Bhumisparsha or ‘touching the earth’ is the one that is closest to the Hamsa. It is one that is straight with an open palm of the Right Hand and stands as a testament to the moment when the Buddha attained enlightenment. This has been popularized in mainstream movies such as ‘Shaolin Soccer’ (2001) and ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ (2004). 

The Hamsa symbol is ancient, and even while being a relic, it can still garner strong faith in its protection today, especially in the Middle East. Despite the many religions and varying stories of origin, all believers of the power of Hamsa Hand respect and revere it.  

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