Field Guide

Hands Pointing Up

A hand pointing up is usually an indication that the soul has risen to the heavens. If the first two fingers are together and the deceased is a member of the clergy, the hand represents the hand of God (Manus Dei). In this context, the hand is a symbol of the Trinity and is usually enclosed in a circle or has rays of light emanating from it. A less common upright hand is the Greek form of Manus Dei, where the first two fingers and a fourth finger are upright and the third finger is bent down. This configuration simulates the letters IC XC, which are contractions of the name Jesus Christ in Greek.

Taken from Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written and photographed by Douglas Keister, published by Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City, 2004.

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