North Africa Hamsa Canvas Bag {Tutorial}

We learned about gratitude today for part of our Ramadan crafts as my teen decorated this North Africa hamsa bag to send to her teacher.

This end of year gift will show my teen’s appreciation for all the hard work her teacher did adjusting to teaching with a pandemic and also be great to hold and help protect all her school supplies.

The hamsa (Arabic: خمسة‎ khamsah; Amazigh languages: ⵜⴰⴼⵓⵙⵜ tafust) is a palm-shaped amulet that originated from North Africa and commonly seen in jewelry and wall hangings.

Khamsah is an Arabic word that means “five”, and also specifically, “the five fingers of the hand”.

The hamsa is sometimes called the Hand of Fatima after the daughter of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

There are various theories as to the origins of the hamsa, one theory says there is a connection between the hamsa and the Mano Pantea (or Hand-of-the-All-Goddess), from ancient Egyptians. It was used to invoke the protective spirits of parents over their child.

Another theory traces the origins of the hamsa to Carthage (Phoenicia, modern Tunisia) where the hand was used to ward off the evil eye.

It has since migrated to other parts of the Middle East, not just as deflecting the evil eye, but also represents blessings, power and strength.


The first step is to tape down the stencil to the bag, after making sure it is positioned in the center.

Next my daughter used the paintbrush to fill the opening of the stencil with paint. The tip to making sure there is not too much bleeding, is to use an up and down motion, instead of strokes, to add the paint.

Your outline will look like this. Do not remove the stencil, we just removed it to show you this step, but try to keep your stencil as still, on the bag while you are working, as possible.

Next my daughter added a contrast color to the inside details of the stencil.

Once the details are added, my daughter took off the stencil to work on the bag directly.

The stencil is cut from the factory in such a way that keeps it all on one page, but after it is removed, my daughter needed to paint where the paper is connected.

Once the outline was complete, she went in and filled in the space with a third color.

We added a few layers, here it is drying between them. The paint has a copper shimmer to it that is so beautiful when the bag is seen live. This adds to the jewellery like effect we were going for.

If you enjoyed learning how to make this book bag, please stop by these

Arabic Fig Canvas Bag {Tutorial}

Arabic Dotted Initial Tote {Tutorial}

Be sure to visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more tutorials that teach about the Arab world and Muslim culture.


I am a Libyan American who creates art to promote a positive image of Arab and Islamic culture.