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The Hand (Khamsa), particularly the open right hand, is a sign of protection that also represents blessings, power, and strength, and is seen as potent in deflecting the evil eye. One of the most common components of gold and silver jewellery in the region, historically and traditionally, it was most commonly carved in jet or formed from silver, a metal believed to represent purity and hold magical properties. It is also painted in red (sometimes using the blood of a sacrificed animal) on the walls of houses for protection, or painted or hung on the doorways of rooms, such as those of an expectant mother or new baby. The hand can be depicted with the fingers spread apart to ward off evil, or as closed together to bring good luck. Highly stylized versions may be difficult to recognize as hands, and can consist of five circles representing the fingers, situated around a central circle representing the palm.
Used to protect against evil eye, a malicious stare believed to be able to cause illness, death, or just general unluckiness, hamsas often contain an eye symbol. Depictions of the hand, the eye, or the number five in Arabic (and Berber) tradition are related to warding off the evil eye, as exemplified in the saying khamsa fi ainek ("five [fingers] in your eye"). Raising one's right hand with the palm showing and the fingers slightly apart is part of this curse meant "to blind the aggressor." Another formula uttered against the evil eye in Arabic, but without hand gestures, is khamsa wa-khamis ("five and Thursday"). As the fifth day of the week, Thursday is considered a good day for magic rites and pilgrimages to the tombs of revered saints to counteract the effects of the evil eye.
The number five in Islam is connected to the open hand, the pentagram of the five senses, marriage, the Five Pillars of Islam, the five daily prayers, and the hand of Fatima. Sufi staffs or poles are often topped with a khamsa. Among Shiites, the fingers of the hand of Fatima also represent the 'five holy persons' of the Prophet's family: Muhammed, Fatima, Ali, Hassan, and Hussein. Ali's name or those of all of The Twelve Imams are sometimes engraved on metal Hands of Fatima. Hamsas can also include a heart, a hexagram, or the word Allah inscribed in the palm of the hand.
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- new scoring system
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