The oldest ‘Portrait’ of Man is a 32.000 Years old Hand Print!
The earliest known ‘portrait of man’ was found in Chauvet Cave (south-east of France) – which was discovered 1994. Containing the earliest known cave paintings, the cave art has been attributed to Aurignacian Man (c.35,000 BC) through the use of carbon dating. Interestingly, among the many cave paintings there are quite a lot of hand prints; one of those hand prints became known as ‘the oldest portrait of man‘ – made c.32.000 BC!
Whereas some scholars consider these cave handprints to be early attempts at human artistic self-expression, others believe they must have magical significance. And because the hand prints occur in the innermost parts of caves, on the walls of which primitive men painted pictures of horses, cattle, bears, mammoths, and other animals that roamed Europe in their epoch, it has been suggested that these locations must have been places of prayer and magical ceremonies.
Since these were the main tools primitive people had to capture the animals they relied on for sustenance, the hands must have seemed not only mystical, but also symbolic of the entire human being. As Jack Mauduy says, if the hand print is taken to be the hand itself and, by an extension, the entire body, the spirit-strength within the hand can be thought to represent all of the energy stored in the entire being.
And today, the capturing of the hand prints of celebrities can in a way be perceived as a likewise ritual as the ancient art from the Chauvet cave in France. Nelson Mandela’s hand print art collection (see the picture below) is an example of this.
HAND PRINTS & RELIGIOUS CUSTOMS:
Religious customs associated with the hands still persist among premitive peoples today. For example, the African Bushmen cut of a finger to symbolize suffering at the loss of a family member or loved one. Other peoples cut of a finger to use a talisman against danger of plague. Plainsmen of New Guinea make hand prints of walls just as primitive man did twenty thousands years ago and cut of fingers to give to the gods in gratitude for good harvest. Interestingly, it seems that, as time passed, primitive people stopped performing bodily mutilation of this kind and resorted to finding mystical qualities in hand print, which came to replace severed digits and hands in their religious ceremonies.
HAND PRINTS AROUND THE WORLD:
The same psychology maybe traceable in old Japanese customs of displaying on walls hand prints of Sumo wrestlers as charms and good-luck signs.
But there many likewise habits are found all over the world. Muslims, for example, use such a charm that looks like a hand with the five fingers extrended. And in some parts of Arabia, people make good-luck signs over the entrances to their houses by dipping their hands in sheep’s blood and pressing them against the wall.
In brief, since the dawn of civilization, human beings, not only in Europe, but also in Asia and Africa, have been fascinated by the mystical nature of the hands.
THE EARLIEST SIGNS OF PALM READING:
The ancient Indians were the first to conceive the idea of telling a man’s ‘fate’ from his hands (3000 BC), and palm reading in New Delhi is still a classic source of entertainment for Western tourists.
Then the ancient Chinese became known for being the first who associated man’s health with his hands (2500 BC), a palm reading in Hong Kong will nearly always include a reading of your ‘health’.
And the Greeks were probably the first who associated man’s psychology with his hands (350 BC). And maybe therefore it is not really surprizing that a palm reading in London will often include a reading of your ‘personality’!