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Hamsa Pendants: A Pre-Islamic History

Instantly recognizable as a protective talisman by many cultures, Hamsa Pendants also hold great significance in both the Christian and Islamic faiths. In Islam, the Hamsa is better known as the “Khamsa” or “Hand of Fatima”, in commemoration of Muhammed's daughter Fatima Zahra, considered by Shia to be the ancestor and “Mother of all Imams”. She is revered as much for her moral purity as her courage in political crises, and is often known as “al-Zahra”, meaning “the shining one”.

But,as with Christianity, the Hamsa was only adopted by those of Islamic faith in the 5th Century. The earliest known use of Hamsa Pendants and symbols can be traced back to Mesopotamia in 4,000 B.C, where it was associated with the deities Inanna and Ištar. It was also associated with Buddhist spiritual gestures, known as “mudra”, performed with the hand for protection. Findings suggest that the evil eye may have been influenced by the use of similar talismans in Phoenicia, where it was believed the hand of the deity protected people from the 'evil eye'.

The symbolism of the open right hand has long been associated with protection in many cultures. In Ancient Egypt, there existed a talisman very similar to the Hamsa, which featured two fingers, a thumb, and the evil eye. According to Egyptian legend, the two fingers represent the gods Osiris and Isis, while the thumb is associated with their child Horus. Egyptians believed that children wearing the Mano Pantea would be protected by the Gods - much like they do in parts of North Africa today.

Hamsa Pendants make for an extremely stylish and personal gift. Browse our selection here, and find one that speaks to you.