Monday, May 20, 2013


I always bring stones and rocks home from our excursions and this large flat one came in very handy yesterday. While drawing and painting this chamsa I was thinking fondly of my friend Aiva, because it is a present for her.

The chamsa hand is a magical defense against the evil eye, it is a talisman to ward off the bad and negative forces. The five fingers of the palm are a symbolic character in many traditional cultures. Five is "chamesh" in Hebrew, and "chamsa" in Arabic, a lucky number.

The belief in the evil eye is most common with the Jews of North African origin, but has its place in modern Israel too. In Islam the chamsa hand is a magical amulet and is called "the hand of Fatima" who was a daughter of Mohamed. And Jews call it "the hand of Miriam" the sister of Moses.

Several things will make the chamsa more powerful. The eye in the center, it has to appear in every chamsa. The color blue, which symbolizes holiness in Judaism, and in the Koran it stands for glory and unity. Blue and turquoise is used to adorn mosques, and the Arabs often paint their doors blue, and have turquoise window frames. The Hebrew letters chet and jud, they form the word "chai" which means "life". And fish is a symbol for good luck as well, fish is immune to the evil eye. Also the Star of David is used as protection against the evil spirits. Today, sixty years later, it is not anymore a budge of shame and destruction, but a proud symbol of the State of Israel. The once negative meaning of the color yellow will never be forgotten - but today it is just yellow.
And of course the heart is there, as a token of love and kindness, just in case.

Here we do not knock on wood to ward off the evil eye, instead we say three times chamsa, chamsa, chamsa. Or we say "let's eat fish on Thursday", Thursday is the fifth day of the week, according to Jewish calender, yom chamishi.

The chamsa hand should have the three fingers in the middle with the thumb and the little finger at the same level. Unfortunately my thumb and pinky are not symmetrical. :-)


smultron said...

Hej Yael,

ich bewundere Deine farbenprächtigen Steinmalereien, die Ausgewogenheit und den Formenreichtum. Ist der Stein selbst so gelb (Lehm?) oder hast Du ihn mit gelb grundiert?
Danke auch für die Erklärung der Symbolik. Das interessiert mich sehr.

Lieben Gruß

Annuk said...

I LOVE your chamsa hand, dear Yael!!! It turned out so well with your beautiful and unique style! And thank you for the very interesting background...
Blue, turquoise, the evil eye... colors and symbols that are common to so many Mediterranean cultures and are dear to my heart :) I am almost addicted to them (did I say "almost"?)... and you know that, Yael! ;D I am wearing TWO evil eyes at the moment (ear post+anklet)...

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful story and well painted stone.

Hilde said...

Your chamsa hand turned out beautifully, Yael :) I love the style, the colours and the symbols. What a great gift for your friend! And so interesting to read the background info about the chamsa hand!!

My friend visited Israel back in the 90s, and while she was there she bought a chamsa hand. It is hanging on the wall of her hallway, and everytime I visit I see it :)

Have a wonderful new week, Yael!

Irmi said...

Liebe ael,
die Erläuterungen zu deiner Chamsa Hand sind wunderbar. Ich habe mir eine Fotokopie gemacht.
Hüte den Talisman - er soll dir nur Glück bringen.
Einen guten Start in die verkürzte Woche wünscht

Ruostevilla said...

How beautiful! Thanks for the detailed explanations. I've seen these hands but I did not know exactly the meaning of them.

zsazsazsu said...

thank for the explanation, I did not know all about it. Beautifully colored by you, and this must not be simple on a 'rock underground'.

Red Rose. said...

Hi, Yael,
Very interesting!It is first time for me to know the story of chamsa hand. You found such a perfect stone in your excursion and it was beautifully painted by you.

mirjam said...

Shabat Shalom Yael
Lovely Hamsa

Dawn of LaTouchables said...

Yael, this hand made me swoon! I love the colors you used, the expressiveness of it. You are indeed a natural talent, and the friend who gets this beautiful stone will treasure it forever. Lucky girl!!!

Eva said...

What colors did you use? Acrylics? This is so neatly done, so exact! And the colors so radiant, I just love this lucky charm, and I am sure it works!

Friko said...

That is a beautiful symbol and a very desirable present at the same time.What kind of paint do you use on a stone? I might try my hand at one.

I don’t suppose the seeds will arrive now, they’ve got lost in the post. Perhaps they have been impounded? Not every country accepts plant matter. But I put my address on the back and they should have been returned.

I am very sorry that it didn’t work.

Friko said...

did my comment get lost?

stardust said...

Hi, Yael! What a charming charm! Thanks for the detailed explanation. Aiva will be protected from the evil forces. You are the one who can surely make people around you so happy with your creativeness and magical hands.