A survey of ancient and modern amulets throughout the world surprisingly concludes that the image of the open right hand was a universally recognized and employed sign of protection from the early Mesopotamia amulets to the Qat Istar and the Qat Inana, the Mano Pantea, and the right hand of the Buddha in the mudra (gesture) of teaching or proaction, and the Hand of Fatima. The common and universal human experience of the emotions of jealousy and envy, of the dangers of pregnancy and childbirth, to the dependency upon the fertility of crops and herds undergird the reality behind the amulet of the open right hand. Throughout al of those cultures and religious traditions in which we find the open right, particularly as identified with a female personality of great energy and status, was the commonality for its use as protection in the “female” experiences of conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation as well as within the boundaries of the domestic sphere, such as the nurture and care of children, the preparation of food, and so on. Beyond the varied species of stone or metal used to fabricate the amulet, there are functional differences in the use of the proactive open right hand.
The Qat Istar, also known as the Qat Inana, or Hand of Isthar/Inana, had no textual or scriptural basis among the Akkadians, Sumerians, and Mesopotamians who used it; nevertheless, it had specific meaning as the controller or seizer of diseases(s). Ironically, modern scholarship not only suggests the lack of textual basis for this amulet but also recognizes that the disease(s) from which the wearer of the Qat Istar (or Inana) was protected was classified as psychological of psychosomatic in nature.
— Diane Apostolos-Cappadona
on the Mesopotamian origins of the Hand of Fatima
amulet. Published in Beyond The Exotic: Women’s Histories in Islamic Societies
by Amira El Azhary Sonbol