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A Hamsa hand is one of the most ancient amulets used in modern culture. The symbol has been adopted by diverse communities from different religions who have shared a common understanding of the symbol's meaning - the ability to ward off the evil eye and attract divine protection. The Hamsa hand is shaped as a symmetrical five-finger hand with a thumb on each side.
The name itself - Hamsa or Chamsa - means "five" in Arabic, referring to the five stretched fingers of the hand. The Hamsa hand symbol can be found in many places: home blessings, key chains, home décor, Hamsa pendant designs and much more.
With the growing interest in Kabbalah and its mystical world, the Hamsa Hand motif has entered the field of Jewelry accessories. Hamsa is a popular motif in Kabbalah jewelry which often draws on symbols that are believed to fight off negative energies. The famous phrase "evil eye" refers to such beliefs, for example, that any envious stares, whether intentional or not may bring about bad luck and misfortune. The discussion over the nature and effects of the evil eye tend to vary from culture to culture, but there is a common agreement about its negative potential.
The Kabbalah discusses lengthily the possible destructive effects of the Evil Eye, and how it may become an obstacle from realizing our dreams and wishes. Kabbalah uses a red string to fight the evil eye. Hamsa hand is another example of a Jewish talisman that works against the Evil Eye
The shape of the Hamsa hand, unlike the normal human hand, is symmetrical, with thumbs on both sides. The origins of Hamsa can be traced to thousands of years ago, and are linked to the Moon goddess, named Tanit, who was one of the patron goddesses of Carthage. Tanit was associated to fertility and war.
In later period, the ancient Hamsa Hand was adopted by both Judaism and Islam. In Islam, Hamsa is known as the Hand of Fatima or Eye of Fatima. The Fatima refers to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Mohammad, the prophet of Islam. According to the legend, Fatima was stirring hot milk, when her husband Ali suddenly came in with another woman. Fatima was so overwhelmed that her the spoon fell into the stew and Fatima kept on stirring using her own hand. The hand of Fatima has turned thus into a symbol of faith and tolerance. The tear that Fatima shed has worn the image of the eye. The eye is also believed to fight bad luck and often fixed at the middle of the Hamsa.
In Judaism, the symbol bears no connotation to Islam but is used for the same purpose - an amulet against the evil eye. In Jewish tradition, the Hamsa Hand is believed to help banish evil or any negative energy and bless its owners with luck and good fortune. The Hebrew commonly keeps the Semitic name, Hamsa, but it is also known by its alternative names, Hamesh hand (like hama in Arabic , means five), Miriam's hand or the hand of God. Miriam is the older sister of Moses and Aaron, and has a significant role in the story of Exodus. Kabbalists see the five fingers as representing the five books of the Torah.
Today, Hamsa decorates many kinds of objects and in home and office spaces. Blessings for the home or business, for example, are very popular, and so are amulets, charms, key rings and even mobile phones accessories. When the Hamsa points to the ground, it draws female energies and good fortune. When the Hasma points to the sky, it draws male energies, keeps out evil eye and bring personal safeguard. With the years, images of fish, star of David and other protective amulets have been added to the Hamsa designs. Many Kabbalah jewelry accessories combine these motifs simultaneously to provide strong and effective protection to the wearer.
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