The Hand In The Native American Culture
The highly complex Native American Indian culture was based on a religion dominated by rituals and spiritual connection with nature.
Several beliefs were illustrated in various symbols such as the Hand symbol. Their clothes, tepees and most of their belongings were decorated with these symbols depicting their achievements. The Hand print was also a common symbol that was painted either on the face of the warrior or on his horse. The most prized handprint was when preparing for battle, if it was a kill-or-be-killed mission, an upside-down hand would be placed on the warrior’s horse. If a horse knocked down an enemy, right and left handprints were put on the horse’s chest.
The hand symbolized human life and this sign channeled energy to the wearer. It also represented spiritual power, strength, domination & protection. One way of using the symbol of the Hand was by applying « war paint » before battle. When preparing for battle, the hand symbol in war paint was applied to intimidate their ennemies during warfare.
Medicine Men or Shamans chose the hand symbol as a marking representing powerful magic that was passed on during application of the war paint. The warrior believed himself to be invincible. For certain tribes, the Hand symbol represented success in one on one combat.
In Native American art, the hand symbolizes the presence of man. The earliest traces of hand imprints on cave walls depicts his personal history.
A hand with a swirl in the middle of it, is said to be the « eye in hand » meaning the all-seeing hand. It becomes a mystical representation and implies the presence of man’s great spirit. These Native American hieroglyphs have been found in a number of places in the south-western part of the US.
It is also known as the Healer’s hand or Shaman’s hand as an ancient symbol of healing and protection.