Semiotics shows us that things are often misinterpreted.

Dugmah: When I was a teenager, I worked in a natural food store where we had a mixed bag of clientele: The Fruitarian who lived off of carrots, who one day extended his orange (no joke) hand and asked me out ‘for juice’, the bleach blonde bodybuilding transvestite with perpetually smeared eyeliner and Tourette’s Syndrome who would alternately yell out, “Ssssscience!” or profanities, and our fair share of Wiccans. One day, I wore a magen david to work and as I was ringing up her tofu and sprouts, Wicca Lady cooed to me, “Oooooooh, I love your pentagram.” Uh, right. My pentagram.

So, I didn’t know what to make of it when browsing the aisles of a videostore, I came upon the Olsen twins’ watershed drama ‘New York Minute.’ On the cover, albeit teensy tiny, on the wrist of the funkier twin, no benign red string, but something else: a hamsa. Was it the work of a covert semetic stylist, or were the famed duo really Jewesses?! I had to know for sure. The hamsa is also known in the Islamic world as the Hand of Fatima, referring to Mohammed’s daughter, yet even if this was the the implied reference, I was still not sure if I was picking up what she was putting down. Movie posters/covers are so scrutinized before they go to print
that I thought there had to be something more to the story…

After copious amounts of research there it was: they are “Anglican/Episcopalian” – I have to say, it ruined my night. But the Internet is rife with misinformation, so I went to the source. I sent an email to their official website asking if they were, in fact, Tribe. When I get their skeeved out response, I’ll letcha know.

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  • was the first line ‘semiotics are often misinterpreted’ a self referential joke? (i.e. ‘semiotics’ is a general study of the function of words (symbols, signs) in a language. It’s hard to see how that is a) plural and b) misinterpretable, though signs and symbols seem like they can be misinterpreted.

  • the hamsa is not a religious symbol. it’s just a middle eastern culture thing (to my understanding, anyway). i wear them because i think they’re beautiful, not because i fear the evil eye. having said that, i think the “funkier twin,” whichever one that is, has just as much right to wear it as i do. she probably just thought it looked cool. or maybe her stylist did.

  • “The hamsa hand (Arabic) or hamesh hand (Hebrew) is an old and still popular apotropaic amulet for magical protection from the envious or evil eye. The words hamsa and hamesh mean “five” and refer to the digits on the hand. An alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima, in reference to the daughter of Mohammed. An alternative Jewish name for it is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to the sister of Moses and Aaron.

    The hamsa hand appears both in a two-thumbed, bilaterally symmetrical form, as shown, and in a more natural form in which there is only one thumb. There is good archaeological evidence to suggest that the downward-pointing protective hamesh / hamsa hand predates both Judaism and Islam and that it refers to an ancient Middle Eastern goddess whose hand (or vulva, in other images) wards off the evil eye.”

    Fine, fine, they can wear whatever they want, but where do I get me one of them magic vaginas?

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