Photo of the Week – Look at those Knockers

hand door knocker

Knock, Knock! Who's there?????

While traveling throughout the Middle East I saw many doors graced with hands.  However I never really got the full story on the hand knockers.  Some people say it’s the Hand of Fatima and it’s supposed to protect your home from evil.  However one of my favorite explanations was that the hands knockers were either male or female hands.  A female knocker had a different sound than a male hand knocker.  Many doors had both at one time (a female and a male door knocker hand).  Visitors were supposed to used the correct gender hand to knock so that people knew if it was a man or a woman at the door.  If it was a man knock, then a woman (presumably Muslim) wasn’t allowed to open the door.  If it was a female knock then a Muslim woman could answer the door.

I honestly have no idea if this was a true story or not…but I liked it, so I chose to believe it!  I’ve tried to do further online research about the history of these knockers, but haven’t come across any real answers.  Regardless – I thought they were beautiful to photograph and it allowed me to use the phrase – “Look at those knockers!”

door knocker

Hand knockers in Jordan

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Your Comments

16 Comments so far

  1. Brian says:

    Hey Sherry!

    We love these door knockers too. We saw quite a few of them in Prague and a few on our recent trip to Barcelona. I never knew the stories behind them though so thanks for the post!

  2. Oooh, just yesterday I saw a collection of pics of doors. Now I came across pics of door knockers. I have a feeling the universe is trying to tell me something :)

    Love these pics of seemingly- random and common items.

  3. Chris says:

    I am not sure about the door knockers but while traveling through Tunisia last October I noticed that the hand of Fatima was painted over many doorways. It was explained to me that it is placed there to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.

  4. Mark H says:

    Great knockers. I love the idea of male and female knockers to avoid any confusion in who opens the door. That makes good sense to me.

    • Sherry says:

      I agree Mark – I had been seeing these hand knockers all over and when someone gave me that explanation I thought it was brilliant. I’m still not positive it’s true though!

  5. Connie says:

    I love doors! It’s strange but I’ve never known anyone else to have a fascination with doors or anything door-related! Hooray, I’m not alone!

  6. Love the play with words Love those knockers. I really like hand knockers. Great pics.

  7. You get a lot of those in Malta too – but it’s not just knockers; you can also find ornamental items on the doors. Check these photos out (2010 from Valletta, Malta)

    http://www.box.net/shared/r5nkh19eej
    http://www.box.net/shared/hv1vtl4p3r
    http://www.box.net/shared/3v0ctbqxje

  8. Spaniard says:

    the story is true. in muslim Persia / Iran they also do it, but they are a bit more graphic (and less artistic): if the knocker is a stick/iron rod, it’s for male visitor. if a round/oval shape, it’s for females… and quite obvious why the choice of shapes! ;-)

  9. rose says:

    Dear Sherry and readers,
    I’m not from Jordan and I’m not sure about it either. The theory seems reasonable to me because, as you probably know, Muslim women need to cover up themselves in public/in presence of males(besides family members). Since they do not cover up to that extent at home, the knocker will alert them whether they should cover up before answering the door or not(in case the visitor is a female)

    • Sherry says:

      Thanks for your thoughts on this! I still don’t know if we have a definitive answer – but some really great information has been shared!

  10. Deb says:

    Those door knockers in Jordan weren’t at Feynan Eco Lodge were they? I remember admiring them when there and I know that you spent some time there as well. Could it be?

  11. I understood the hand to be a powerful symbol of protection against evil. It hails from the Hamsa/Khamsa as known universally across Morocco (Berbers), the Middle East (among Israelis and Shiites or Sufis, etc) and Turkey … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamsa Found as wall hangings, decorations, amulets and door knockers everywhere in those lands.

  12. Annabanana says:

    Thanks for this! I came across a lot of these in antique shops in Athens, and assumed that they were remnants of the Ottoman occupation/influence on the Balkans. Lovely idea, if a tad creepy :)and now I’m rather kicking myself that I didn’t pick one up for my own home now that I’m a world away from Athens.


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