The hamsa is a fascinating ancient symbol often found in jewellery, clothing and art. But what does the hamsa represent?
Let’s take a look at the meaning of this enigmatic symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as Jewish and Muslim cultures.
The hamsa is an ancient Middle Eastern symbol that holds a variety of meanings across cultures. Nevertheless, it is regarded in all faiths 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,’ also known as ‘The Evil Eye’. The hamsa 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 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.
Hamsa is also the 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.
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.
The Hand of Fatima symbolises the Five Pillars of Islam: Faith, Prayer, Pilgrimage, Fasting and Charity. Muslim communities also refer to the hamsa as ‘Khamsa’, the Arabic word for five.
In Buddhism and Hinduism, the hamsa takes on a very different meaning. For Hindus and Buddhists, the hamsa represents the chakras, the five senses and their associated mudras (hand gestures) that re-direct energy flow throughout the body.
- Thumb- Fire element / solar plexus chakra.
- Forefinger- Air element / the heart chakra.
- Middle Finger- Ethereal elements / throat chakra
- Ring Finger- Earth element / root chakra
- Pinkie Finger- Water element / sacral chakra
Whatever your cultural interpretation of the hamsa, keeping this symbol closeby is said to bring positivity, good luck and happiness.
Shop the ISHKA range of hamsa jewellery, clothing and homewares.