Thursday, 29 March 2007

Islamic Emblems: The Hand and The Key

Today I found an interesting passage in Washington Irving’s „The Alhambra“ (1820ies I think). As I am always looking out for shield and heraldic designs I think the following gives a good understanding of the significance of two symbols, the “Hand” and the “Key” in islam. Irving is describing the gateway of the Alhambra (torre de la justicia):

“The great vestibule, or porch of the gate, is formed by an immense Arabian arch, of horseshoe form, which springs to half the height of the tower. On the keystone of this arch is engraven a gigantic hand. Within the vestibule, on the keystone of the portal, is sculptured, in like manner, a gigantic key. Those who pretend to some knowledge of Mohammedan symbols, affirm that the Hand is the emblem of doctrine; the five fingers designating the five principal commandments of the creed of Islam, fasting, pilgrimage, alms-giving, ablution, and war against the infidels. The key, say they, is the emblem of the faith or of power; the key of Daoud, or David, transmitted to the prophet. “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut, and he shall shut, and none shall open.” (Isaiah XXII.22.) The key we are told was emblazoned on the standard of the Moslems in opposition to the Christian emblem of the cross, when they subdued Spain or Andalusia. It betokened the conquering power invested in the prophet. “He that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shuteth and no man openeth.” (Rev.III.7)”

Now I wonder how that key looks like.

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This blog is dedicated to ancient and medieval miniature wargaming. I'd like to share pictures of my painted armies and models, self made terrain-pieces and sketches of projects still residing in my head or on a piece of paper.
My main interest at the moment is creating armies and accessories, researching for historical or made-up scenarios and campaigns for the fast-play wargaming rules from "De bellis Antiquitatis" (DBA) with 25mm and 15mm figurines.
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Photographs showing painted toy soldiers, terrain pieces, scratch-built things and drawings © Menic Rüttimann 2.Nov.2006. Please notify me if you wish to use these.

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