The name “Hamsa” (“Hansa” in Sanskrit, or “Al Khamsa” in Arabic) is from the Semitic root word for five, and is a very ancient symbol in the Middle East. Although it is an ancient symbol, the Hamsa is still popular today and is believed to possess magical powers of protection, happiness and prosperity.
The hamsa hand, similar to the evil eye, also has a dynamic cultural history. It is called by many names, but most often, in traditional Turkish settings, it is referred to as the Hand of Miriam, named for Moses and Aaron’s sister. The word itself means “5″ and thus refers to the 5 fingers. The number 5 is a powerful number and symbolizes defence, power and fortune.
The evil eye, which has many names is actually a “Luck Charm” that is believed to “reflect evil” thus protecting its wearer against jealous eyes, bad luck or misfortune.
Historically, the evil eye is found throughout many regions including ancient Anatolian (Turkish), Egyptian, Italian, Greek and Roman cultures and many references of the evil eye find their way into contemporary Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Latin American and Hindu traditions and customs.
Although the hamsa hand has had a symbolic following in Islam and Judaism for centuries, archaeologists have found sites in the Middle East which proves the symbol has pre-dated these two religions and actually originated with the Phoenicians and was first used as a provocative symbol for an ancient Middle Eastern goddess. The hamsa hand is always, hence, associated with femininity and a female offereing protection from evil and misfortune and also providing good luck to its wearer.