Late last year and, at the beginning of this year, three very dear and close people to me got hamsa tattoos. Hamsas are talismans that span cultures and religions and are thought, in some cases, to ward off the evil eye. The symbol has great significance in some aspects of Jewish culture and thus, when my wife, my younger daughter, and one of our closest friends all wanted a hamsa, it happened, one could say almost mystically, in threes.
What's cool about these three hamsas is that they are so different - they are not "matching" tattoos, yet each one is a companion to the others, as they were all crafted and tattooed by the talented Alex McWatt (@alexthreekings) and Three Kings Tattoo (@threekingstattoo) in the East Village.
First up is our dear friend Felicia's, above her inner ankle:
Most hamsas include an eye, and other design elements are included. In Felicia's case, she had Alex add a branch, representing the Tree of Life, the Hebrew word "Chai," and a red heart. Chai also has a lot of meaning in Judaism - it literally means life. Felicia's hamsa is symbolic and has the outline of the traditional protective hand.
My wife Melanie got her hamsa on her inner left forearm:
|Alex McWatt at work on Melanie's hamsa|
One of the cool things about hamsas is that, as designs, they can be interpreted in so many different ways. Melanie's is oriented differently than Felicia's and consists solely of the traditional eye and a full Tree of Life, whose branches extend throughout the tattoo:
Last up is my daughter Shayna, whose hamsa is on the outer part of her leg, above the ankle:
Shayna's hamsa has no tree, but holds a "Chai" in its palm, in the middle of a six-sided star, the Jewish Star of David. It is purposely unshaded, except for the blue in the eye, and the three fish on the fingers. Alex used bold thick lines to create a really striking tattoo.
Three women, three hamsas, three different tattoos that hold deep personal meaning to their wearers.
Note I do not have any direct quotes from Felicia, Melanie, or Shayna. Meaning is interpreted differently, and it is hard to say "this means this" and "that means that," when the tattoos possess a higher spiritual significance.
You can see a half-dozen or so other hamsas featured on Tattoosday over the years here.
Thanks to Melanie, Shayna and Felicia for sharing, and to Alex McWatt, who continues to amaze us with his work!
This entry is ©2018 Tattoosday.