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Left hand equals bad hand?

Over the centuries, customs, religions and habits have made sure that the left hand is almost universally damned and unwelcome. Only very recently has the use of the left hand been accepted as more ‘normal'. We have picked a selection of items that make the point.

  • In popular folklore in many cultures around the world, the Devil, or the local equivalent, is always left-handed (look at paintings and illustrations and extracts from religious texts). The custom of throwing spilled salt over the left shoulder originates here as well, it is to placate the devil to your left and avoid bad luck.
  • Throughout most of Christianity, good stuff happens on the right and bad on the left! One count reveals over 100 favourable references to the right hand. Virtually all references to the left hand are unfavourable. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, the sheep on the right side inherit the kingdom of heaven, but the goats on the left are cursed and sent into everlasting fire and punishment.
  • The ancient Greeks regarded the left side as inauspicious and unlucky and the Romans later took up the same view. The Greek word for left, ‘skaios' came to mean ‘ill-omened' and ‘awkward' as well.
  • An account of certain African tribes in 1906 describes what they do to left-handed children. They poured boiling water into a hole in the ground then thrust the offending hand in and wedged it down with earth. This tended to damage the hand and discourage the child form using it.
  • Until fairly recently (and still, sometimes, today) children using their left hand to write with were strongly dissuaded, by having the left arm tied behind their back, by having the left knuckles hit with a ruler or other suitable punishments. We are probably the first generation that does not include many thousands of natural left-handers who write with their right hand!

We had an email from a lady in Swaziland, South Africa, in response to this article and you can see her story about being physically punished for using her left hand here.

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5 comments on “Left hand equals bad hand?
  1. Shawn Marie says:

    I’m glad I’m a lefty with the ones that wrote comments about this article. My mother who is also a lefty decided
    to put pens and pencils in my right hand to write, when I was a child. But, whenever she did this, I immediately
    put these instruments in my left hand and just immediately started writing. Haven’t stopped since then.
    I’m now 43. I’m happy with having a right-hemisphered brain. There are celebrities that are lefties also, don’t forget about them. Lefties are smart and intelligent.

  2. Samantha says:

    I cant believe all those stories. Lefties are just people. I am a left handed person and I’ve been blessed. I cant believe people would hit their children’s hand with a ruler. The 10% Left handed population had a gift.

    -From a True Leftie- <3

  3. Tiziano Fantuzzi says:

    Hi! I am an italian palaeoethnologist from Venice University. I recently came to work on a study on the first occurrence of left-handed tools in prehistory, but i am rather new to this subject. Does anyone know what is the most ancient left-handed tool found in the world so far? I suspect that we have possibly found something extremely important at this regard, but i really need to check all other findings for confront.

    If anyone has information at this regard for me, i’d be extremely interested in discussion!

    Best Regards

    TF

  4. Chad bullock says:

    When I was a kid I had my left hand hit with a ruler and was told what I was doing was evil. Only 5% of the world is left handed hence why people thought it was evil or awkward. It was different. I Truely embrace my difference though realizing that because there are so few of us we are Truely the smallest minority in the world. In my life I’ve seen that being right brained makes us more different then a black and white person. Furthermore it is my thought that if you were the “right hand of god” he would have his hand on your left shoulder. God bless the leftys.

    • David says:

      Well typed…..I am so glad I am a lefty/lefthander/leftfooter/levshka/right brain individual….with fantastic power of the RIGHT BRAIN!!!! …and that is the genuine truth!

      Look at all the famous lefthanded leaders in history and the present….its simply amazing being a part of a very special group of people …I am truly blessed!!!

      PEACE

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