I love hands. There is something about them that just says so much. I fell in love with my husband from the first time he shook my hand. Hands; have always held a special place in my heart.
Through the ages the human hand has appeared in all of the creative arts of every culture. Throughout the course of history, the human hand has been a source of great symbolism. It is said that ancient warriors showed their peaceful intent by showing a hand, palm forward, to say I come in peace, I have nothing against you.
Human hands have never lost their fascination to our ancient forefathers, and even now in contemporary times, the novel roles that hands play in the humanities with their dexterity and grace never cease to amaze us.
What is a hand but a divine design? And what is a hand for but to design divinely?
The “All-Powerful Hand” has its origin in ancient Egypt. The monotheistic Pharaoh, Akhenaton (1379-1362 B.C.) and Queen Nefertiti of the 18th dynasty are often depicted in sculpture relief as receiving energy from Aton, who is represented by a sun-disk. This can be seen in the tombs at Tel-el-Amarna. Rays of the sun-disk are portrayed as elongated arms terminating in hands reaching out to the royal couple and bestowing upon them the life-force.
The cultural world in which man lives, both in preliterate and in technologically advanced societies, tends to be a “right-handed” world. Cross cultural studies reveal that different sides of the body, the left or the right, are associated with different social activities
The right and left hand have come to symbolize good as opposed to evil, gods as opposed to demons. Hence, they are considered as two forces constantly at war with one another.
In religion, hands symbolize the divine presence, influence and power. In Catholicism, the power and influence of God is often portrayed in medieval paintings and murals as an almighty hand issuing from the clouds to convey something of spiritual importance to saints and prophets.
In the creative arts, the hand speaks, and one senses the tremendous power of the hand to convey human emotions. The hands are the organs of the body which, except for the face, have been used most often in the various art forms to express human feeling. The hands point or lead or command; the hands cry out in agony or they lie quietly sleeping; the hands have moods, character, and, in a wider sense, their own particular beauty. From prehistoric times to our own day, in every society known to science, the hands symbolize cultural behaviors, values, and beliefs.
In a landmark paper published in 1973, the eminent hand surgeon J. William Littler, MD, proposed two mathematical relationships between the anatomic and functional geometry of the hand. Analysis shows that the functional lengths of the phalanges of the little finger actually do follow a Fibonacci series and that the functional lengths of the index, long, and ring fingers follow a mathematical relative of the Fibonacci series.
So, why are our hands the shape that they are?
A new study suggests that human hands evolved so that men could form fists and fight. Researchers at the University of Utah found that not only did hands develop for better manual dexterity but also to make war and defend ourselves.
“The role aggression has played in our evolution has not been adequately appreciated,” said study author David Carrier, reported Medical News Today.
“There are people who do not like this idea, but it is clear that compared with other mammals, great apes are a relatively aggressive group, with lots of fighting and violence, and that includes us. We’re the poster children for violence.”
The hands are, as Kant is reported to have said, “man’s outer brain.”
The power and versatility of the human hand rests, in part, upon its generalized pattern. But it is the human brain, with its intricate and elaborated nervous system, that coordinates man’s eye and hand. Thus, man is born with a hand free to do the bidding of his expanded brain.
When reaching for a moving object, people tend to overshoot the object by a little bit. But overreaching is part of the brain’s strategy for catching erratically moving objects most efficiently, according to the 15 October PRL.
Perceiving a stimulus and initiating an action take about 100 milliseconds each because of the time an electrical impulse needs to travel through nerve cells. By the time a person’s hand has reached to grasp an object, say a rabbit, the hand’s position is being guided by information that’s already 200 milliseconds old. The rabbit may have zigged.
In a sense the human hand is a paradox. Although it is said to be the highest achievement of primate evolution, research to date shows it to be no more than a variation of a primitive vertebrate plan. The successive stages of evolution give proof, if proof be needed, that our sensitive and mobile hands, with their opposable thumbs, are part of man’s vertebrate ancestry.
Unless we have an extremely rare neurological condition, touch is present within every single interaction with objects in the world, and a considerable amount of interaction with people. The submissive position it is accorded perhaps mirrors the dismissive attitude we accord to touch in everyday experience: so obvious as to be meaningless, with seemingly little need for interpretation.
Yet the long history of the relationship between vision and touch in science and philosophy indicates a more complexly experienced and articulated world. In striving for verification, do we reach out to touch something to feel its truth, or do we believe our eyes? And in the notoriously visual culture in which we live, what is the place of touch?
“There is nothing in the intellect that is not first present in the senses,”
We alone have a hand. We use it as a tool, as a symbol, and as a weapon. A whole literature of legend, folklore, superstition, and myth has been built up around the human hand. As an organ of performance it serves as eyes for the blind, the mute talk with it, and it has become a symbol of salutation, supplication, and condemnation. The hand has played a part in the creative life of every known society, and it has come to be symbolic or representative of the whole person in art, in drama, and in the dance.
Among all species, our human hands are unique — not only in what they can accomplish, but also in how they communicate. They can grasp, scratch, poke, punch, feel, sense, evaluate, hold and mold the world around us. Our hands are extremely expressive; they can sign for the deaf, help tell a story, or reveal our innermost thoughts.” (“What Every Body is Saying,” Harper Collins) No other species has appendages with such a remarkable range of capabilities. And, although prehension is the major function of the hand, the hand is, at the same time, one of our primary sense organs.
Touch is a sense resulting from the combined information of innumerable receptors and nerve endings concerned with pressure, temperature, pain and movement. But there is more to touch. It is a sense of communication. It is receptive, expressive, can communicate empathy. It can bring distant objects and people into proximity. It is a carnal world, with its pleasures of feeling and being felt, of tasting and touching the textures of flesh and of food. And equally it is a profound world of philosophical verification, of the communication of presence and empathy with others, of the mutual implication or folding of body, flesh and world.
We clasp the hands of those that go before us, And the hands of those who come after us. We enter the little circle of each other’s arms And the larger circle of lovers, Whose hands are joined in a dance, And the larger circle of all creatures, Passing in and out of life,Who move also in a dance, To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it. Except in fragments.
Movement is indispensable in sensory experience, and experimentation demonstrates that even the “imaginary” touch sensations are located in the finger tips. According to David Katz, it is quite impossible to call up the image of touch without, in imagination, moving the hand. The moment we imagine our hands at rest, the image becomes uncertain or disappears.
Each hand is unique. Every hand betrays its possessor by characteristic movement patterns, by peculiarities of gesture, or by occupational stigmata arising from physical and mechanical causes.
They are the symbol of divinity, for the sacred hand of the Divine One has its influence upon the mundane affairs of humanity when men have gone too far astray from the path of Truth and righteousness.
In the higher worlds we express our creativity through thought–mind-generated sounds, colors, and light. Our hands should not be undervalued. Without them we are less effective in carrying-out our mission in life.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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Hi, do you know where the picture of the brain made with hands originated? I would love to get permission to use it at our hospital as part of our stroke program.
Hello, Good post. I would also like to know who to credit the hands brain picture to. It would be used in educational settings. With no profit or money resulting from the use. Thank you, Mary Neifert, Occupational Therapist.