The hamsa is a fascinating ancient symbol often found in jewellery, clothing and art. This rather enigmatic symbol is believed to have originated in the Middle East and today it holds meaning not only within Muslin and Jewish cultures as a protective talisman that brings good fortune, health and happiness.
The hamsa is primarily used to protect its owner from the “Ayin Ha’ra”, the “evil eye”, as it wards off any potential negative forces, with the most common being envious glares from those with ill intentions. The earliest use of the hamsa can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) where it was worn as an amulet to protect against the evil eye.
In Muslim culture, the hamsa is known as the “Hand of Fatima”. Fatima Al Zahra was the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and his first wife, Khadija. “Al Zahra” is said to mean the shining one. As Fatima is seen as pure and without sin, the Hand of Fatima is considered a symbol of protection, power and strength.
In Jewish faiths, the hamsa represents the hand of God and is known as the “Hand of Miriam”. Miriam was the virtuous sister to Moses (who led the Israelites out of Egypt) and Aron (who became the first High Priest). Miriam’s honourable life led her to becoming a symbol of great protection and luck.
The word hamsa is Hebrew word for “five”, and while some believe this represents the five fingers on the talisman, others say this symbolises the five books of the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Within Muslin communities the hamsa is referred to as khamsa, the Arabic word for “five”, and the Hand of Fatima symbolises the five pillars, being faith, prayer, pilgrimage, fasting and charity.
Whatever your cultural interpretation of the hamsa, keeping this symbol close by is said to bring positivity, good luck and happiness.
The hamsa bracelets pictured above are handcrafted from handblown glass beads and are available through LunaNoire Creations.