Monday, May 20, 2013
CHAMSA - CHAMSA - CHAMSA
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. :-)