Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with throwing open the cabinet of curiosities and wondrous things I call my brain and leading you on a tour of what actually resides in there – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
D is for…
dactylogram: an impression taken from a finger; fingerprint
One look at the tip of my finger, and I’m launched into another world. I’m fascinated by hands. Everything about them. I love to look at them. I collect their images; I puzzle over their seeming mysteries. I delight in the obvious. You’ve got to hand it to me, I’ve got my pulse on this handsome universe.
I’m always looking for clues – unraveling the secrets written in the lines of my palm. I wonder at the array of heart-life-head crossings and uncrossings.
What would the graphologist intuit from my handwriting? How long will it take me to master the graceful gestures of American Sign Language? It boggles my mind that we are each uniquely stamped with our fingerprints. What’s the physics behind Chinese finger puzzles – those straw tubes wide enough to fit a forefinger in each end, but then locking them in a tight embrace? And what IS the sound of one hand clapping? You see I’m curious about many things.
A friend, evidence technician/crime solver extraordinaire, knows more about fingerprints than you can shake a finger at. You’ve got your whorls, your loops, and your arches dancing around those fingertips labeling you a unique entity.
Folklore from both India and China report traditions of reading fingerprints as indicators of certain character traits. One whorl indicates poverty; two riches; three and four whorls are a good aspect for opening a pawnshop; five whorls for a mediator; six for a thief; seven whorls indicates catastrophes; eight that you’ll eat chaff; and nine whorls with a loop and there will be no work for you to do, and plenty of food until old age.
While we recognize the root word dactyl means finger, in Greek mythology, the Dactyls were a race of beings born from the fingers of the great mother goddess, whether known as Cybele or Rhea. In the telling I originally heard there were 10 Dactyls, five females from the print of her left hand, and five from her right. However, it is more often said they were all men, known as smiths and healing magicians, and teaching the alphabet and mathematics to humans.
Ages ago, when writing was limited to a few clerks, documents were authenticated by the impression of the hand dipped in ink, and then the seal was duly affixed. As dipping the hand in ink was such dirty work, the impression of thumb was eventually substituted. Subsequently the name was written, and this writing was called “the hand,”
Relatedly, my fascination with fingers of course includes their adornment. I’ve always been a multiple ring wearer, from my earliest days of proudly wearing paper cigar bands. Eventually my interests expanded to poison rings and signet rings.
I’ve always been fascinated by seals, and have done my share of sealing with impressed wax. But I also love the idea of Chinese chops, the seals carved from stone used to sign things, traditionally with a red paste ink. I have two that I had made, one with my name, and this one you can see as part of the image below which reads “Write Your Heart.” I like to use it as a reminder of what’s important to me – the authentic sharing of my heart.
My image also reminds me of what Anthony T. Hincks said:
“You can count friends on fingers, but you count love in hearts.”
We are all as unique as a dactylogram, yet we all share the same world we can touch through our fingertips.
What about you? Curious about fingerprints? Love hands as much as I do? Wear a signet ring? What are you currently experiencing through the myriad of touch sensors in your fingers that delights you beyond measure? Do tell – you know I love to hear.