Thursday, December 9, 2010

manus dei, hand of god

 Jean Fouquet (French (Tours), ca. 1415/20 - 1478/81)
The Right Hand of God Protecting the Faithful against the Demons
Leaf from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier
ca. 1452–1460

The Hand of God, or Manus Dei in Latin, also known as Dextera domini/dei, the "right hand of the Lord/God", is a motif in Jewish and Christian art, especially of the Late Antique and Early Medieval periods, when depiction of Jehovah or God the Father as a full human figure was considered unacceptable. The hand, sometimes including a portion of an arm, or ending about the wrist, is used to indicate the intervention in or approval of affairs on Earth by God, and sometimes as a subject in itself. It is always a artistic metaphor that is never intended to indicate that a hand was physically present or seen at any subject depicted, and there are no examples of the Hand of God actually being seen in the Bible. The Hand is seen appearing from above in a fairly restricted number of narrative contexts, often in a blessing gesture, but sometimes performing an action. In later Christian works it tends to be replaced by a fully realized figure of God the Father, whose depiction had become acceptable in Western Christianity, although not in Eastern Orthodox or Jewish art.

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