Reading this delighted me, because I too have been collecting hands for years, (not photos, but all kinds of representations of hands.) None of my collection will ever be sold by Sotheby’s, but at least now I can consider my collection “art”.
Hands have always seemed to be spooky, magical, beautiful and filled with power. I looked up “hand” in “The Book of Symbols” from Taschen and learned that, on the walls of the cave of Pech-Merle in France, prehistoric artists outlined their hands in red ochre and black cinder over 20,000 years ago near drawn images of horses. Even at the dawn of human consciousness, the image of a hand seemed magical and important.
Of course in a Hindu wedding the hands of the bride and groom (and the guests), lavishly decorated in henna with symbolic figures at the mehndi, are important symbols. Here are the hands of the bride, Neela, at the fabulous wedding in Jodhpur that we attended several years ago. The bride and the groom had their feet and hands decorated. Both their names were worked into the bride's design--which the groom had to discover for himself (If you want to know more, check out my post “The Hindu Wedding – At Last!”).
Here are some photos from my collection of hands. As I’ve mentioned before, I collect way too many things, and I love them all and consider them “found art.”
In the kitchen I have one wall covered with objects that incorporate hearts, (told you I collect too much) and several of these are the “heart-in-hand” design that I always thought was an early-American kind of valentine. But I discovered that the heart-in-hand is actually a symbol of charity, which originated with the Shaker sect: “Put your hands to work and your hearts to God.” It is also a symbol of the fraternal order of Odd Fellows.
The Victorians were very big on hands—in vases, pin dishes, calling cards, brooches and just about everything. Here is a small display case of tiny hands. The metal ones at the top are part of a drinking game. The one at the right reads “You pay -- Jack Daniels -- 1866”.
I absolutely love this “Hand of Christ” also known as “La Mano Poderosa”—“The most powerful hand”. It symbolizes the wounded hand of the crucified Christ with representations of the Holy Family on the fingers—Baby Jesus on the thumb (because he’s the most important), Virgin Mary on the index finger, followed by St Joseph, then St Anne and St. Joachim, Mary’s parents. The red marks represent Christ’s wounds.