The hamsa is a palm-shaped amulet popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Depicting the open right hand, an image recognized and used as a sign of protection in many societies throughout history, the hamsa is believed to provide defense against the evil eye. The symbol predates Christianity and Islam. In Islam, it is also known as the hand of Fatima. Levantine Christians call it the hand of Mary, for the Virgin Mary. Jews refer to it as the hand of Miriam.