Hand Eye Symbol

Hand Eye Symbol

Hand Eye Symbol
Attribution: Herb Roe

Native American Symbols, like the Hand Eye symbol, can vary in meaning from one tribe to another and across the culture groups of North America. The Hand Eye symbol was used by the ancient Native Americans of the Mississippian culture.

Discover facts and information about the meanings of secret and mysterious symbols used by Native American Indians in our List of Symbols including the Hand Eye symbol.

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The Hand Eye Symbol
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Hand Eye symbol. The origin of the Hand Eye symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders of North America and were major elements in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of American prehistory (S.E.C.C.).

The Meaning of the Hand Eye Symbol
The Hand Eye symbol featured strongly in the Mississippian culture. The following picture shows the Hand Eye Symbol surrounded by the Horned Serpent. The meaning of the Hand Eye is obscure, its true meaning has been lost in the midst of time. However there seems to be a common belief that the Hand Eye symbol is related to gaining entry to the Upperworld (Heaven), in other words a portal. A portal is a magical doorway that connects two distant locations and provides an entry point from one world to another. The Eye-in-the-Hand symbol is believed to be representative of a supreme deity and is solar (and therefore Upperworld) in origin. To reach the Upperworld the deceased had to undertake a journey along the Path of Souls, the Milky Way.

Hand Eye Symbol
The Hand Eye motif is one of five symbols that often appear together in Mississippian iconography. The other symbols are a skull, bones, panther and serpent. The skull and bones symbols represent death and the Panther symbol and the Great Serpent Symbol are icons of the Underworld and depicted as fearsome monsters. On the journey of the dead along path of souls, the milky way, the demons of the Underworld had to be avoided to gain entry to the Upperworld (Heaven). The Algonquin people believed that crossing a bridge in the shape of an enormous serpent would lead to the road of the afterlife. All those who had led and honest life would cross the bridge but others would fall into the waters below and turn into serpents.  Our grasp of Mississippian symbolism is only rudimentary. Their true meanings can never really be known and the meanings of the symbols are based on best guesses. Our conclusion and best guess is that this Mississippian Hand Eye symbol would have been recognised by the Mississippian people to symbolize the journey along the Path of Souls and their ultimate goal of achieving eternal happiness in the Upperworld.

The Hand Eye Symbol - Mississippian culture
The most ancient Native American Indian symbols, like the Hand Eye symbol, came from the Mississippian culture which was established in 1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The Mississippian Native Americans were the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. The Mississippian culture was based on warfare, which was represented by an array of emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian culture Hand Eye icons like the Hand Eye symbol provides interesting history and ideas for tattoos that include cosmic imagery depicting animals, humans and mythical beasts. The Mississippian Native Americans practiced body painting, tattooing and piercing.


Hand Eye Symbol Artifact

Native American Indians - Hand Eye Symbol
Native American Indians of the Mississippian culture were sun worshipers and had a highly complex warfare culture. Their symbols, such as the Hand Eye symbol, reflect the warfare culture and the religious beliefs and cosmologies of the different historic tribes who existed at the time of the first European contact.

The Mississippians believed that the universe consisted of three parts with good and bad spiritual forces. These three worlds were linked together and their connection was usually portrayed as a cedar tree or a striped pole. The Underworld was inhabited by spirit snakes, the Upper world was inhabited by spirit birds and the people of the earth who were ruled by these powerful spirits like the Hand Eye.

Items displaying symbols, like the Hand Eye symbol, from the Mississippian culture have been found in burial sites that contained war axes, knives and other weapons. This type of symbol was embossed in valuable materials such as rare shells, copper and lead and depicted on pottery and stone tools and weapons.

Hand Eye Symbol


Warrior Picture

Hand Eye Symbol Artifact

Bird Man Symbol Picture
Attribution: Herb Roe


Hand Eye

  • The Hand Eye symbol of Native Americans
  • Meaning, symbolism and interpretation of the Hand Eye symbol
  • Interesting facts and info for kids and schools
  • Pictures, meanings, patterns and designs of symbols
  • Native American Hand Eye symbol meaning

Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Hand Eye. Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History of Native Americans and illustrate many symbols used by American Indians. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - Hand Eye. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a Horned educational resource for kids.


Teaching resource - Teachers - Kids - Hand Eye - Native American Symbols - Indian Symbols - Symbolism - Symbolize - Interpretation - American Symbols and Designs - Indian - Meaning - Symbolism - Symbolize - Interpretation - Meanings - Tattoos - Tattoo - Info - Information - Kids - Pictures - Signs - Emblem - Icon - Pictogram - Pictograms - Children - Spirit - Patterns - Designs - Homework - Picture Writing - Traditions - American Symbols - Reference - Tribes - Tribe - Guide - Tattoos - History - Writing - Signs - Pictographs - Indigenous - Ancient - Pictures - Pictures of American Symbols - Paintings - Images - Photographs - Hand Eye - Written By Linda Alchin

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