Shield of Man, Hand of God

Here are my two favorite items I've come across while researching various projects this week.

According to heraldica.org, "the family of Coglione, in Naples, bore three pairs of testicles counterchanged" on their charge (the image on their shield). Ballsy! Why bother with the predictable rampant lion (I'll tell you about him next week) or three dexter arms conjoined at the shoulder when you can cut to the chase and tell your enemy what you really mean? I salute you, Coglione family, for your most heroic sense of humor. Unless those are actually reversed hearts.

You've probably seen this symbol around before; it is commonly known as the Hamsa and it seems to have corresponding mythologies in both the Judaic and Islamic cultures. In Islamic, it's called the 'Eye of Fatima' or the 'Hand of Fatima,' in reference to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Muhammad. In Hebrew, it is the 'Hand of Miriam,' in reference to the sister of Moses and Aaron. In both cultures, it is meant to ward off evil, especially in the form of the 'evil eye' or 'stinkeye,' as I prefer to call it. Some evidence suggests that the Hamsa predates both religions, and some have used it to represent the common origins of Judaism and Islam. I've seen it described as having a thumb and pinky pointing outwards, but to me, that looks like a hand with two thumbs. Perhaps it originally signified two hands atop one another, in a spirit of offering or receiving? Or maybe, since this is sometimes referred to as the hand or eye of God, this represented God's hand? It would make sense if God had two thumbs on each hand, as the opposable thumb is a symbol of human evolution.

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