Vintage leather khomissar necklace with onyx stone cord
This traditional Tuareg khomissar pendant takes the form of a stylised hand. It is believed to ward off the evil eye. The five shells (mounted on layered leather) symbolise the fertility of the wearer – it is only worn by Tuareg women. The cord is made of onyx stone. It is in very good condition for its age.
Layered leather and shell with onyx cord
9.5 cm (h) x 10.0 cm (w) x 2.0 cm (d).
Cord length 48.0 cm
Fisher, A. (1998). Africa Adorned. New York: H. Abrams, p 206.
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.