The Hamsa symbol is one recognized by a wide variety of peoples across the world. Over time it has come to be recognized and used as a Jewish symbol explaining its wide use in Judaica items such as amulets or simple designs on a bigger piece. The image itself is one of an open hand and its five fingers. This shape is often formed abstractly, and designed in many different ways, but throughout history the Hamsa has only had one meaning: protection and safety.
The Hamsa Throughout History
The birthplace of the Hamsa is still considered somewhat of a mystery, though several fact-based theories do exist. While some are convinced that this symbol derives from the Carthaginians or Ancient Egyptians, others have noted that similar images were found in Mesopotamia connected to teachings of the Buddha.
The word “Hamsa” literally means five in Arabic and was originally used by the Arabs referring to the symbol as the five fingered hand of Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. As the symbol worked its way into Jewish communities in Africa and the Middle East it became known as the hand of Miriam and the Christians later named it the hand of Mary.
One thing that all cultures seemed to have agreed upon is the protection the Hamsa provided for the Evil Eye: a look given that was believed to cause luck to its receiver. The Hamsa was also considered a blessing that would help bring about positive events in life.
Modern Day Hamsa
Today, the Hamsa is found predominantly in the state of Israel where the symbol has caught on as style more than a superstition. In fact, the Hamsa has only recently experience a revival in Judaism and Israel. When the nation was first formed the symbol almost disappeared among Jews because the Ashkenazi population disapproved of its Eastern origins.
Now the Hamsa is wide spread in Israel and for many represents Israeli culture and the statehood of the Jewish nation.
The Hamsa has a meaning in and of itself, but it is often designed with additional artwork in Judaica products for additional or even personal intent.
One of the most well-known decorations for the Hamsa is a depiction (sometimes very abstract) of an eye representing the ancient superstition of the Evil Eye. Many Judaica items choose to add additional meaning to the symbol with other decorations of Judaism. Pomegranates or the Hebrew word “Chai” or “Living” are two favorites.
Besides this they can also be personalized with a name or family photo. Together with the different materials used to create artistic Hamsa, it’s the perfect item for any Jewish home.
For More Information
- Armenian Floral Seder Plate with Blue Rim and Hebrew Text $25
- Yair Emanuel Large Shabbat Candlesticks with Jerusalem Depictions $71
- Yair Emanuel Tree of Life Menorah with Birds and Pomegranates in Lazer-Cut Metal $55
- 12 centimeter 925 Sterling Silver Mezuzah Case with Handwritten "Shadai" $355
- Yair Emanuel Small Wooden Dreidel with Western wall/Jerusalem Design and Stand $11
The Hamsa symbol is an ancient symbol with unknown origins. In Judaism, the symbol is attributed to Miriam, Moses’ sister and is considered to be agood luck charm. The Hamsa is an open hand with a large eye taking up most of the palm and the five fingers extended. Hamsas can be found in jewelry, wall hangings, amulets and other Middle Eastern Judaica objects.
Hamsas are very often brightly decorated with floral pattern, Armenian deco patterns and Jerusalem aswell as geometric patterns. Hamsas that are hung on the wall often have the prayer for a peaceful house painted in its center or in the palm. Other popular texts include positive words and phrases such as “Abundance” and “Success”. These Hamsas can be made of any material, although the most common materials are copper, silver, ceramic, pewter andolive wood. These items are great gift ideas for a wedding or housewarming since they are meant to bring blessing and happiness to the new residents.
Looking for a gift? World of Judaica has a wide selection of Hamsa pendants made from sterling silver, gold and painted metal. These Hamsas also have diamonds and other gemstones set in them and can also be personalized with engravings of names. Looking for a gift for a holiday such as Hanukkah? Consider a Hamsa keychain painted with a Middle Eastern motif.
If you are looking for a Hamsa that is unique, consider a glass Hamsa that is stained and painted with floral patterns or Jerusalem. Or as an alternative, consider a Hamsa that is decorated with the High Priest’s breastplate in addition to other traditional Judaica themes.
World of Judaica invitesyou browse our collection of Hamsas themed blessings, jewelry and Judaica items. If you have any questions or concerns, us via email, live chat or phone and a customer service agent will be happy assist you.