Vintage silver 'Gates of Paradise' pendant from Zagora, Morocco
A vintage silver ‘Gates of Paradise’ pendant from Zagora, Morocco. It is stylised as a khamsa with five small hands projecting out from the main arched shape. A very unusual piece made in the 1970s.
6.7 cm (h) x width: 5.2 cm (w)
Fisher, A. (1998). Africa adorned. New York: H. Abrams. P241
The name khamsa or hamsa is the word for 'five' in Arabic. It is the shape of a hand that serves as an amulet bringing 'good luck' or baraka (blessings) to the wearer and warding off all harm. In Islam, it is also known as 'The Hand of Fatima' with reference to the prophet’s daughter. In Christianity, it is also known as 'The Hand of Mary', referring to the mother of Jesus. In Judaism, it is known as 'The Hand of Miriam’, referring to the sister of Moses and Aaron. Khamsa can be very elaborate or very plain and often differ in style and shape from one region to another. They can sometimes be found in a very stylised form which does not even resemble the shape of a hand but bears the same symbolism, usually including some reference to the number five.