Vintage silver 'Gates of Paradise' pendant from Zagora, Morocco
A stylised khamsa with five small hands (khamsa) projecting from the main arched shape of this pendant, possibly representing the doors and windows of the mosque. This khamsa is from Zagora, made circa 1970. A very unusual piece.
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.