Silent Language of Hands

USA Mexico Border

Behold the hands how they promise, conjure, appeal, menace, pray, supplicate,
refuse, beckon, interrogate, admire, confess, cringe, instruct, command,
mock and what not besides, with a variation and multiplication of
variation which makes the tongue envious.
– Michel de Montaigne

Peshawar, Pakistan

Our hands often reveal what we really think but do not say.
They can show a range of feelings and emotions
from confusion and frustration

to joy, understanding, love, and compassion.

Feyzabad, Afghanistan

Among all species, our human hands are unique — not only in what they
can accomplish, 
but also in how they communicate.
Human hands can paint the Sistine Chapel, pluck a guitar,

maneuver surgical instruments, chisel a David, forge steel, and write poetry.
They can grasp, scratch, poke, punch, feel, sense, evaluate, hold and
mold the world around us.

– Joe Navarro

Lakeland, Florida
New York City, USA

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us,
we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions,or cures,
have chosen rather to share our pain and touch
our wounds with a warm and tender hand.

– Henri Nouwen


Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted
according to the graces we have received and
let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
– Mother Teresa

Hong Kong, China

Hands calm us, feed us, and scratch our backs.
They intimidate, bless, encourage, and stop us.
They soothe and caress.

They draw our attention to the good and the bad,
often suggesting exuberance or fear.

– Charles Flowers introduction to Elliott Erwitt’s Handbook

Mopti, Mali
Kabul, Afghanistan

To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.
– Taisen Deshimaru

Mandalay, Myanmar/Burma

Hands have saved lives and taken them just as easily.
They create the saviors of life as well as the purveyors of death.
Creating and destroying with a single move
a finger can move mountains or search the unknown heavens.
Hands live to caress and love.
Hands live to fight and die.
Forever living hands, forever exploring hands.
– Bruce Alan Humphrey

Dublin, Ireland
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Karelia, Russia

Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as 
beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.
– Rumi ( 1207 – 1273)

Uganda, Africa
Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Hold a true friend with both hands
– African Proverb

Zhengzhou, China

The hands which beckon,
embrace, soothe, and comfort us
Bid us farewell.


To pray means to open your hands before God.
– Henri Nouwen

Rome, Italy

…For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 5
-William Shakespeare


 Hajjah, Yemen
St. Petersburg, Russia


Steve McCurry:  A Life in Pictures by
Bonnie McCurry

Available in Italian – Mondadori/Electa

Available in German – Knesebeck publishers

Available in English – Laurence King Publishers

Available in French- La Martiniere

By Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

To read more about Steve go to

46 replies on “Silent Language of Hands”

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
ee cummings

Beautiful words and pictures, especially about sign language. I learned sign language in high school. The ability to use signs as language was the cornerstone of understanding and diagramming intuition as a language.

Hola, la verdad de este gran artista del lente, stevemccurry,que para mi es una legenda en su aria y un catador de imagenes que en verdad tocan los corazones de quienes puedan aprecial verdadera hobra de artes,

I’ve yet to be disappointed by any of your work. Always touching… avoiding the trite or smarmey. Okay, that’s not a real word, but I continue to absorb your work with joy.

Sou fã desse talento inigualável de captar a alma humana através de suas lentes. Obrigada
Steve McCurry.

Your skill and a lifetime of photography brings to life the communication achieved between people just by gesture, touch, love, prayer, soothing and comforting. An absolutely wonderful body of work

Dear Mr. McCurry … I’ve followed you since I started blogging about 5 years ago. I received your new book for Christmas this summer!! Amazing job … I was always able to share your posts with readers but now, even though the reblog button is there is, it doesn’t work for me. Is there anything that you can tell me to try to fix this!?

__/l\__ Thank you, your number one fan!! 🙂

It is early morning, and once again, your words and images lift my heart. When your blog arrives on my doorstep, it is always the first thing I look at to start my day. Always on a soothing note! Thank you.

We have a non verbal grandson that uses an ipad plus hand gestures. This means a lot to me and will his parents.

Thank you so very much for your excellent and skilled work.

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