Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Statue of la Mano Sagrada (The Sacred Hand)

Catalog Number: H008


10.5" x 5.5" x 18.75" 
266.7 mm x 139.7 mm x 476.25 mm

Religion and Denomination: Espiritismo (Caribbean)
Country of Origin: United States
Ethnographic Origin: Cuban (Caribbean)
Materials: Ceramic
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

La Mano Poderosa (the All-Powerful or Omnipotent Hand) collects several potent symbols into a single design and thus enables statues such as this to channel the boundless power and grace of God into the mundane world. The essential elements of the design are all represented in this ceramic statuette: emerging from a cloud, a right hand with fingers splayed and an open wound on its palm. The members of Christ’s earthly family stand on each finger, lending the design two more names: los Cinco Señores (the Five Lords) or las Cinco Personas (the Five Persons). The arrangement of personages here is most commonly found in three-dimensional versions of the Hand. From thumb to little finger, these holy hosts are Jesus; his mother, Mary; Mary’s husband, Joseph, holding the infant Jesus; Mary’s mother, Anne; and Mary’s father, Joachim. The order of the holy family in painted versions of la Mano Poderosa is slightly different: from thumb to little finger, Joachim, Joseph, the infant Jesus, Mary, and Anne. The placement of Jesus in both iterations emphasizes his primacy, whether he is placed on the longest finger or on the most versatile and important finger, the thumb.

Paintings of the Hand add other details not typically found in three-dimensional versions. For instance, they often depict the arm below the hand clothed in the sleeve of a Franciscan friar. The wound at the center of the palm often drips blood, unlike the clean wound seen in this ceramic sculpture. Likewise, in painted examples, a chalice (often pouring blood into the mouths of lambs) recalls the redemption of sinners through Christ’s suffering. In paintings, La Mano Poderosa is often paired with a quartet of angels who bear tools and weapons known as the Arma Christi (weapons of Christ).