The chamsa is a symbol in the shape of a right handed palm found throughout the Middle East, North Africa, as well as in parts of southern Europe. Popular primarily among Jews and Muslims, the chamsa is a good luck symbol believed to protect against the evil eye. The chamsa is often used in jewelry, wall hangings, and people often hang chamsas or paintings of chamsas near the entryway of their homes. Chamsas can represent a hand either held upwards or pointing downwards and often have an all-seeing protective eye positioned at the center of the palm. It has been theorized that its origins lie in Ancient Egypt.
I love the symbol’s versatile shape and multiple meanings that shift across different cultures, temporal planes, and religions as it continues to be reinvented. I find the idea of the evil eye to be fascinating—the common desire found within so many cultures to fend off the envy of others. I love the how the chamsa has been transformed into a symbol of peace, often making the thumb and pinky into the heads of doves. As an Ashkenazi Jew, I love that the chamsa ties my history to others whose history also began in the Middle East.