WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
This is a lesson I took with 60 Yr 5 children (two classes), we were studying pattern and symbols. They had already used patterns to create a Space illustration, illustrated traditional tale book cover, and had visited a woodland to photograph and study patterns in nature. This final lesson was based on the patterns and symbols of traditional tribal art and body art.
WHAT WE DID FIRST
We looked at several different cultures that use patterns on the body including some of these: Aboriginal Body Art, African Tribal Art, (Here’s an interesting link-read it first before showing anything to children), African Tribal Scarification, Moroccan Henna-‘lucky eye‘, Moroccan Henna symbols and their meanings.
We discussed the reasons why certain tribes around the world use body art, including at initiation ceremonies, to identify tribal members, to communicate an idea or belief e.g. in certain gods, ready for marriage, becoming a mother etc. People also use it to communicate with the spirit world, at certain ceremonies, for war ceremonies, protection from evil spirits, good luck, family tradition.
I told the children that we would be using Arab (Moroccan) henna patterns to inspire us and that we would make our own ‘Hamsa’ or Hand of Fatima. We explored what the hand of Fatima means and also looked at the ‘lucky eye’ that is very popular in many mediterranean countries.
Hamse, Khamse, Hand of Fatima & ‘Evil eye’
For those unsure, the Hamsa has significance for Muslims and Jews. Some believe that it will protect them from evil, especially those evils that others might feel towards us like jealousy, envy and hate. Others (the more religious) believe that it is a beautiful symbol reminding them of the purity and goodness of Fatima (the Profit Mohammed’s daughter), but these people do not believe that it will protect them, as only God has the power to provide protection.
Often the Hamsa and the ‘evil eye’ or lucky eye are put together to add double protection against evil spirits, as well as jealous or envious persons.
WHAT YOU NEED
2 Hamsa templates.
I drew the Hamsa template (this is quite easy if you fold a piece of paper in half and draw half of the Hamsa along the fold, then cut it out-still doubled over so that when you open it out you will have a full Hamsa shape. Now all you need to do is draw the sections for the fingers, and palm with a ruler.) Photocopy this for each child, they will need two Hamsa hands each. Here’s an example of an already decorated Hamsa.
3 thicknesses of black pen (eg Berol fine handwriting pen, broad Berol pen, thin and thick felt tip).
Limited colour palette of thin and thick felt tips if anyone wants to use colour.
Photocopies of some relevant patterns, symbols and meanings for each table to use as reference material.
Inspiring images on Interactive White board.
Pritt stick/glue stick and scissors.
1 tube of Henna paste per table
I set children off using the different sized pens to explore and adapt the patterns onto their own two Hamsa hand templates. They could use the patterns as inspiration as well as bringing in their own ideas and bringing in previously explored patterns and symbols.
While they were doing this one or two people on each table had a go at as much or as little henna on their own hands as they wished. Some girls were from cultures that practice the art of henna and offered to paint it onto their friend’s hands. Other children wrote their initials on their hand or copied the ideas they were doing on their Hamsa drawing.
Here are some more images of their work in progress.
THE FINAL STEP
The final step is to cut out the two Hamsa hands and glue them around the edges of the palms.
Punch a hole at the base of the longest middle finger.
Stuff some screwed up pieces of scrap paper in between the two partly glued hands to fatten them out.
Then glue them both shut-trapping the screwed up bits of scrap paper inside them-make sure the two hole punched holes are aligned.
String some thread/string through the holes and tie in a knot so that you can hang the Hamsa up.
Here are some images of the final pieces.
I hope this lesson is helpful to anyone planning an Islamic, RE, Eid lesson. If you do use this idea then please email me photos of your classes work and hands, so that I can add it onto this blog post.