The Hamsa has gone by many other names including the eye of Fatima, the hand of Fatima, and the hand of Miriam to name a few. In terms of visual appearance the Hamsa is an open hand with an eye in the middle. The Hamsa is usually worn as protection, specifically against the Evil Eye.

Floral Hamsa flash by Joey Ramona at Under My Thumb Tattoo in Toronto
Micro Hamsa by EQ Tattoo in Seoul, Korea

Today this design is mainly seen as an important Jewish symbol but it has been interpreted by many scholars as Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and even as a pagan symbol of fertility.

Neo-traditional Hamsa by Ceci at Trenton Point Tattoo
Micro Hamsa by Camilo Leal Tattoo in Bogotá Columbia

Two of the Hamsa’s other names (referencing Fatima or Miriam) link this ancient symbol closely to Judaism and Islam. Fatima is the daughter of Mohammed, and Miriam is the sister of Moses.

Geometric Hamsa by Jutta Carter at Martins Custom Tattooing
Geometric/dot work Hamsa by Meg Evans in Shrewsbury UK

One of the oldest depictions of the Hamsa comes from a 14th-century Islamic fortress in southern Spain, on the Puerta Judiciaria, or, “Gate of Judgement.” There are also those who believe the Hamsa has its roots in Christianity through the virgin Mary whose hands are often seen in a “fig” pose. Then there are historians and professors who believe the Hamsa doesn’t come from religion at all, because there are Palaeolithic caves in France, Spain, Argentina, Algeria, and Australia with paintings of the hand.

Hamsa, flowers, and gems by Sarah Thirteen at Black Lodge Tattoo Studio in Bournemouth, UK
A more old school Hamsa by Cari at True Blue Electric Tattoo in Knoxville, TN

As a tattoo the Hamsa is often done in a black and grey or fine line, but neo-traditional and geometric patters thrown into the mix are also popular. Many people wonder if it’s ok for them to wear a Hamsa, whether it’s a tattoo, on a necklace, or a t-shirt, and the short answer is yes. It can be culturally insensitive to wear it without understanding what it means, but as so many religions and cultures have ties to it, it really can be for anyone, as protection is a universal theme.

Micro Hamsa and other work by Marjolein Evens at Garden of Eden Studios in Hasselt, Belgium
Geometric/dot work Hamsa by Ozz Tat in Mexico

Do you have a Hamsa tattoo?

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