The hamsa is a palm shaped talisman, or amulet, thought to protect against the evil eye. It can be found through out the Arab world that is in North Africa and the Middle East. Used as a sign of protection, it can be found on all the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, from Spain to Morocco.
I thought it might be something to bring up with my daughter to celebrate Arab American Heritage Month. I want her to learn about this symbol that is uniquely born of her Arab roots and has spread to other cultures.
The hamsa has been called a Khamsah, the Arabic word for “five”, to sympbolise the five fingers of the hand. The five fingers are occasionally used to symbolism the five pillars of Islam. It has also been referred to as the Hand of Fatima, after the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
A few years ago when I was on vacation, I saw this universal sign of protection in both Egypt and Turkey. It can be found in souks, the Arabic word for markets, as well as in homes of Arab Christians, Jews and Muslims. The hamsa’s path into Jewish culture can be traced through its use in Islam. The khamsa holds recognition as a bearer of good fortune among Christians in the region as well. Levantine Christians call it the hand of Mary.
Due to it’s origins, there are many who believe that it is a pagan symbol and does not have a place in Islam. They feel it’s magical or mystical and beyond the scope of the Quran.
I shared both views with my daughter as we made today’s craft. Follow along the picture tutorial as we make a hamsa to help bless our home.
My daughter traced out her hand with the pencil on the paper.
She learned how to use the needle nose pliers to bend the wire to trace her hand outline.
She then learned how to use the wire cutters to cut the wire off the spool.
She cut off two pieces of wire of equal lengths and turned them into two S shapes.
To attache the two shapes to each other, she cut off small pieces of the copper wire and twisted it around the middle two spots where they touch.
She then used more copper wire to attach the S shaped design to the wire hamsa.
To add some movement below, she attached a wood bead to the cooper wire and twisted the wire closed. She then added more beads, alternating colors. Now our beads will hit the door when it’s open to create a windchime.
To attache the bead dangle to the hand, she added chain. To attach the chain to the wire, she simply used the needle nose pliers to make a closed loop.
Our hamsa is ready for our front door.
If you enjoyed this DIY tutorial and would like to learn more about the Arab world, please visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterst.