The hamsa (also romanized khamsa, meaning lit. five) or hand of Fatima (also called the hand of Miriam) is a palm- shaped amulet popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Khamsas come in great variety of designs and sizes. The hand can be depicted with the fingers spread apart to ward off evil, or as closed together to bring good luck. The Hand (Khamsa) has long represented blessings, power and strength and is thus seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye. Hamsa hands often contain an eye symbol. Depictions of the hand, the eye, or the number five is related to warding off the evil eye.
What is Behind the Word "Hamsa?"
The word Hamsa actually comes from the word "hamesh," which is a Hebrew word that translates to "five." In this sense, Hamsa refers to the amulet's design of having five fingers, although it is sometimes interpreted to stand for the five books of the Torah. Oftentimes the Hamsa is not referred to as such, but it rather called the Hand of Miriam, which is a biblical reference to Miriam, the sister of Moses. Some scholars actually think that it predates Judaism, however, and no one can be for sure of the origin of the Hamsa. Still, it remains a hugely popular symbol in Judaism, and in fact, the world.
Hamsa symbolism is usually the same—the Hamsa features the three middle fingers on the hand extended with pinky and thumb to the side. Some variation exists, however, with many amulets showing a slightly curved pinky and thumb. Many Hamsa symbols used in the creation of jewelry feature the addition of the eye, a symbol that is believed to be a powerful defender against those who cast the evil eye. The evil eye foretells bad luck, misfortune, and ill health, while wearing Hamsa jewelry can bring with it protection from the evil eye, and the blessings of good fortune, good health, and good luck. The evil eye does not need to be cast in order for a person to suffer ill effects from it. In fact, it is thought that envy, anger, and other malice directed towards a person are unintentional sources of the evil eye that jewelry bearing the evil eye symbol and open hand of the Hamsa can help.
Traditional Hamsa Jewelry
The traditional Hamsa jewelry found on YourHolyLandStore.com usually features the Hamsa amulet, either on its own or in a design featuring the evil eye symbol, usually with a chain or bracelet. There are also earrings and other forms of jewelry featuring the Hamsa that have a traditional design and can be worn in everyday life. Some Hamsa jewelry features a Hebrew prayer, or even the 72 names of God.
Modern Hamsa Jewelry
Like traditional Hamsa jewelry, modern Hamsa designs usually feature the open hand on its own or with other symbols that are popular among followers of Judaism, including the evil eye symbol and the Star of David. Modern designs usually feature bolder colors and more intricate and trendy designs, oftentimes more popular among younger wearers. Beading and flashy designs are also hallmarks of modern Hamsa jewelry, and is seen in the design of pendants, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings bearing the Hamsa symbol.
Hamsa Jewelry for the Entire Family
Although Hamsa jewelry is typically marketed only to women, more and more manufacturers are including designs for men and children as well. In this way, everyone in the family can wear this beautiful symbol and enjoy the protection that the Hamsa provides to the wearer. There are also options for loved ones and friends who don't wear jewelry—beautiful Hamsa key chains. Key chains can provide protection against the evil eye just like Hamsa jewelry, only it's a portable design that can be taken wherever the recipient goes.