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Some cultures prefer a clean, unadorned look devoid of any design enhancements (and even color) while most prefer a medium to high level of intricate artistic flair.
The most common areas where this flair emerges is: Another less common variation is the depiction of four fingers between the little finger and thumb instead of just three.
The Hamsa/Khamsa is the perfect example – it was adopted chronologically by all the major religions that came in the wake of the simple animism where its roots lay.
Thus, the Jews, Christians and Muslims who successively occupied or conquered the Mediterranean/North African region where the Hamsa seems to have originated all now claim the Hamsa as symbolic of particular aspects of their respective systems of beliefs.
Their use of the Hamsa Hand may have been inspired by Jewish tradition but it was enriched or diluted, depending on how you perceive matters of religion, by incorporating a worship of ancient pagan deities.
This is evident from the position of importance allotted to the goddess, Tanit, as chief protector of the Phoenician capital, Carthage.
Attribute that to the widespread preference of depicting it as a stylized, artistic version with several embellishments instead of its most basic form of a human hand upon which an open eye is centered.
The eye, often in the context of an ‘All-Seeing Eye’ is not a novel concept; it is a well-known symbol that appears on objects and buildings throughout the modern world.
The Hamsa symbol also emerged further east, in the ancient world of India where Hinduism and Buddhism took root.
The oldest surviving use of the Hamsa Hand is in reference to Tanit.
On the other hand, the traditional reference to the Hamsa in Judaism is also in reference to a female figure, but to the sister of the Jewish prophet, Moses.
It is used in two contexts; firstly, to refer to the first five books of the Torah, the holy book of the Jews, and secondly, the Jewish teaching that asks that devotees use all five senses in their worship of God.
The people of Phoenicia were essentially Jewish but of a school that deviated from the original teachings of the Torah.