Hand Symbols

The image of hands in some form is very common on gravestones and they are most often shown praying, pointing, clasping or blessing.

Clasped hands shown in a handshake identify the deceased meeting his maker and is a symbolic of a welcome into Heaven. The hands are often seen with the word Farewell inscribed above or below the hands: farewell to earthly existence with the hope of meeting in eternity.

Handshake

The depiction of a man holding a woman’s hand (identified by a frilly cuff) indicates marriage or a close bond between individuals, and represents unity and affection even after death. The person who died first holds the other’s hand, guiding the spouse to heaven.

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Most of the hands illustrate the right hand in a grasp with fingers overlapping the other hand while the left hand is open.

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When the handshake is enclosed within a wreath of flowers it denotes heavenly joy and bliss.

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Praying hands are a symbol of devotion, a pious person in life or prayer for eternal life

Hands praying    Hands praying star

Hands holding a book are an embodiment of Faith

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A hand holding a chain with a broken link symbolizes the death of a family member.

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A hand holding a heart is a symbol used by the fraternal organizations I.O.O.F (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) and Masons. It symbolizes charity and is common on 19th century memorials.

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A hand holding a palm leaf is the hand of God reaching down from a cloud to lay a flower on a grave

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Hands making the “Live long and prosper” sign (hands touching at thumbs and sometimes forefingers joined) represents members of the priestly tribe of Aaron. It is a benediction or blessing.

jewish priestly blessing

This image represents the hand of God bringing a soul unto himself.

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