Изображение на ръка в епиграфските паметници

Images of a hand on the epigraphic monuments

  • Katerina Venedikova Institute for Historical Studies – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


The study discusses images of a human hand – a palm with five fingers or a palm with five fingers and a wrist – and also their connection with epigraphic monuments in Arabic script. On the one hand, there are rare cases of epigraphic pieces and manuscripts written in Arabic or Ottoman alphabet, on which a hand is depicted. On the other hand, there are a larger number of hand-shaped metal objects bearing Arabic or Ottoman Turkish inscriptions. The author analyzes the upper part of a tombstone with embossed decoration and preserved first line of an Arabic text from Gorno Lukovo village, Ivaylovgrad region. The specific element in the decoration is two palms with vertically positioned fingers, connected to each other just above the wrist. Such an image of connected palms (one with the fingers up and the other with the fingers down) has not been registered so far in epigraphic monuments from Bulgaria. Another rare element in the decoration of tombstones is two embossed strings, each with six beads (coins). The shape of the tombstone from Gorno Lukovo is found to be similar to the shape of three more tombstones from the 19th c. One of them is from Chernichevo village, Krumovgrad region, where half of the villagers are Bulgarians – Christians, and the other half - Bulgarians – Muslims. The other one is a Bulgarian tombstone with an embossed cross and an inscription in Bulgarian, known from Dolni Yuryutsi, Krumovgrad region, from the Bulgarian – Mohammedan cemetery there. There is a string with five coins on it. The third piece is a Muslim tombstone with a relief decoration of a string with five coins on the chain and with an inscription in Ottoman Turkish language carved in Arabic from the Bektaşi village of Bivolyane, Momchilgrad region. It is noteworthy that the string is an element of the decoration of Bulgarian Christian, Muslim and Bulgarian - Mohammedan tombstones.
Secondly, the author provides a facsimile, a description, a read text in Turkishized Arabic, a translation into Bulgarian and a commentary on the embossed mirror written text in Arabic over the face side of a metal right hand arranged over the fingers, the palm and the wrist. The seal is housed in the Museum of History – Haskovo and comes from Turkey. The religious text and the reference to God as a Healer suggest the healing purpose of the subject.
By comparing such metal hands with inscriptions, it is found that they may have different uses. On the fingers and palm of one right hand - a metal mirror from the 17th c. – the names of the descendants of the first Shiite Imam Ali have been written. The upper sector of a metal Alem (a banner – rod) represents a left hand with fingers and a palm: on which religious texts in the Turkishized Arabic language are read in the right form.
Two prints of a right hand to the wrist with Arabic language inscriptions on the fingers and palm are preserved on an Arabic manuscript page from the late 16th c. housed in the Oriental Department of the St. Cyril and Methodius National Library. An amulet stored in the NIM represents the right hand to the wrist made of a copper alloy plate. On one side it bears short Arabic inscriptions and sharp-edged decorations, and on the other side – a rich floral and geometrical ornamentation, probably from the late 18th c. Most of these metal objects represent a right hand. A common feature of the inscriptions on them is that they include ayat (verses of the Quran), hadises (records of a saying or action of Prophet), some of the splendid names of God and also invocations to God. There is not any date written on them. These monuments are associated with Shiism and Alevism.

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