Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Hand-shaped Door Knockers

Until I made yesterday's post about door-knocking customs in England, I had never seen a hand-shaped door knocker. It seems that they are all over Prague, Malta, and even Barcelona.

The hand could symbolize the Hand of Fatima of the hand of Miriam, depending on whether you were Muslim or Jewish (Fatima was the daughter of Mohammed, and Miriam was the sister of Moses). It was there to protect the house and ward of evil spirits. Perhaps the ring that you see on the ring finger of many of these door knockers is a "cultivated" representation of the eye that is so often in the center of the Hamsa Hand or Hamesh Hand.

There was a custom of having different knockers with different sounds for men and for women in Islamic countries so that Islamic women, who were forbidden to open a door to a man, could know if their visitor was a man or a woman.

I guess it was kind of like a ringtone!


jelly andrews said...

These hand-shaped door knockers are really cool. And I like the idea that it is also some sort of protection to the family and not just an ordinary door knocker. But are these door knockers common among Muslims and Jewish only?

Elaine Fine said...

The Hamsa symbol predates Christianity and Islam, but Christians certainly adopted it (referring to it as the "Hand of Mary"). I imagine that they were (and are) popular with people of all faiths.