Small Insight into Asian Culture’s Symbolism of Hands.

Right-Hand and Left-Hand Symbolism


Left Hand Right Hand
Passive Assertive
Justice Mercy
Lunar Solar
Emotion Logic
Receiving Giving
Unconscious Conscious

These brief and traditional attributions for hands can prove meaningful in our daily practices. Being mindful of which hand is used (depending on the intent I wish to convey) has manifested some fascinating results. For example, when consoling a friend last week, I purposefully placed my left hand on her shoulder with the intent to transmit an energy of passivity. I wanted to convey nothing more than my presence to her, and my willingness to be an outlet for her emotion. No action – just being there.

Likewise, I mindfully give with my right hand, while receive with my left. This simple act (or, more accurately, being aware of this act) has reaped some amazing results.

In the Celtic language of symbolism there are references indicating hand meaning in connection to power, rulership, and authority. I infer this from the experience of King Nuada who was dethroned from ruling his kingdom because he lost his right hand in battle.

It was a big deal. Without the hand, a king could be considered incongruent and unbalanced as kings were also judges. Good and balanced judgment was symbolically portrayed by the two hands. Later however, we learn King Nuada regained his command after one of his daughters gave him a silver hand which was animated by the help of Miach, a sage and healer.

Also in the ancient Celtic way of thinking (and countless others), the hand was symbolic of spiritual power. Further, hands were thought to harbor energetic power as we see invocations by Celtic gods and goddesses as well as Druids.

In the Native American way of symbolic communication, hands dominated in expression where the Plains Indians showcased their most eloquent speech via use of hand gestures.

In Buddhism as well as Hinduism hand positions known as mudras were keenly important in expressing transference of divine powers. Hands shown in various positions held symbolism of inherent energy such as meditation, receptivity, unity, wisdom, etc.

The hand has long been thought as a conduit of power – transforming unseen energy into the world of form. Indeed, the Latin word for manifestation is formed around the world manus which is the Latin word for hand.

Consider these little bits about hand meaning as you go about your days, and travel on your Path. Furthermore, I invite you to be mindful of your hands, and how you use them to express yourself and your intent. Here are some ways to have fun while becoming more aware of the effectiveness and power hands can generate…

Employing Creative Symbolism to Enhance Hand Meanings

    • Mindfully serve food or give items away with your right hand.
    • Likewise, receive items with your left hand.
    • Create your own set of spiritual hand signals signifying your devotion to the Divine.
    • Trace your hands on paper and color them in a meditative, free-associative state. Observe what insights come.
    • Gently press your fingertips together, making a soft connection between both hands with the idea of making an energetic connection on a grand scale. Do this in a relaxed, meditative way and see what happens.
    • Finger paint, or make hand print art.
    • Consider taking a class or researching the symbolism in palmistry.
  • Try writing with your less-dominant hand and observe what kind thoughts you express.

See Reference Here:

Although my project in Subject is about World War II and the Holocaust, I am still working with hands. I thought it would be a good idea to investigate the variance of symbolism in hands, depending on culture. With Asian Culture, the symbolism is all to do with the Yin and Yang energy. I knew the primary basics of the Yin and Yang, but after discovering how hands symbolism that energy, I decided to further investigate my studies and found this:

“The principle of Yin and Yang is a fundamental concept in Chinese philosophy and culture in general dating from the third century BCE or even earlier. This principle is that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites, for example female-male, dark-light and old-young. The two opposites attract and complement each other and, as their symbol illustrates, each side has at its core an element of the other (represented by the small dots). Neither pole is superior to the other and, as an increase in one brings a corresponding decrease in the other, a correct balance between the two poles must be reached in order to achieve harmony.

Yin is feminine, black, dark, north, water (transformation), passive, moon (weakness and the goddess Changxi), earth, cold, old, even numbers, valleys, poor, soft, and provides spirit to all things. Yin reaches it’s height of influence with the winter solstice. Yin may also be represented by the tiger, the colour orange and a broken line in the trigrams of the I Ching (or Book of Changes).

Yang is masculine, white, light, south, fire (creativity), active, sun (strength and the god Xihe), heaven, warm, young, odd numbers, mountains, rich, hard, and provides form to all things. Yang reaches it’s height of influence with the summer solstice. Yang may also be represented by the dragon, the colour blue and a solid line trigram.

In Chinese mythology yin and yang were born from chaos when the universe was first created and they are believed to exist in harmony at the centre of the Earth. During the creation, their achievement of balance in the cosmic egg allowed for the birth of Pangu (or P’an ku), the first human. In addition, the first gods Fuxi, Nuwa and Shennong were born from yin and yang. In Chinese religion, the Taoists favour yin whilst Confucianists favour yang in keeping with the prime focus of their respective philosophies. The Taoists emphasize reclusion whilst Confucianists believe in the importance of engagement in life.”

See Reference Here:

The philosophy between the Yin and Yang energy was captivating, as I have frequently seen the symbol on necklaces and bracelets, and often phonecases etc, but never fully knew the concept behind the symbol. I found it interesting how hands in Asian culture represents that Yin and Yang energy and although my project is not based on the philosophy, I find it beneficial and important to further my knowledge in different aspects, as it builds foundations for the context in which I want to take my work.


Author: lawrenceaaronmaker

Studying a BA Hons in Artist, Designer; Maker at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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