Elemental hand shape assessment through the metacarpal approach.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2014

Find your elemental hand shape proportions in 4 steps:
a biometric elemental hand chart!

Discover the hand shape proportions for: Earth hand shape, Fire hand shape, Air hand shape,
Water hand shape & the five major 'mixed' elemental hand shapes!

In the history of hand reading hand shape assessment was so far always a matter based on rather diffuse guidelines. However, since the days of The Cheirological Society (C.S.) hand shape assessment became more focused on the combined proportions of finger length [FL], palm breadth [PB] & palm length [PL]. According the C.S. teachings the so-called classic 'fire hand shape' is featured with a specific set of proportions: 7.5(FL)x 8(PB) x 10(PL), where PB was defined to be measured at the center of the palm. However, the numbers that circulate on the internet (e.g. at Wikipedia) for the average human palm breadth are based on the 'metacarpal' approach, which is measured at the end of the metacarpals (in the palm just below the fingers). This article presents a detailed biometric approach for elemental hand shape assessment through the 'metacarpal' approach derived from biometric standards derived from the 'Handbook of Normal Physical Measurements', where PB is measured at the metacarpals.

Proportional formulas are presented for each of the classic 4 elemental hand shapes [earth hand shape, fire hand shape, air hand shape & water hand shape] + 5 so-called 'mixed hand shapes', where the old mixed combinations earth/water- and fire/air hand shape have been replaced by the term 'medium hand shape' (because from a conceptual point of view it is formally hardly possible to discriminate earth/water from fire/air because both can be perceived to represent a hand shape with exactly the same proportions). The proportional formulas have been derived from (1) the proportions of 'medium' hand shape according materials presented inside the 'Handbook of Normal Physical Measurements', plus (2) a selection of insights regarding the individual elemental hand shapes that have been developed in various hand reading schools; the details are listed below:

• The 'Handbook of Normal Physical Measurements' describes the 50th percentile scores for PB/PL and FL/HL to be in respective close to 0.800 and 0.428; the resulting proportional formula for 'medium' hand shape is: 7.5(FL) x 8 (PB) x 10(PL).

• The classic descriptions for the 4 elemental hand shapes have been described inside the work of Fred Gettings, who describe the variations in terms of 'finger length' (short in earth & fire, long in air and water) and 'palm shape' (square in earth- & air hand shape, long in fire- & water hand shape).

• The work of Terence Dukes describes that a more advanced principle was adopted in the Cheirological Society regarding the 'palm shape' variation between fire hand shape (oblong palm) and water hand shape (narrow oblong palm); the proportional 'finger length' difference between medium and fire hand shape was described to be 0.5.

• Study materials from the International Institute of Hand Analysis (presented by Richard Unger) likewisely suggest that 'palm shape' also varies between earth- (square palm) and air hand shape (shoebox shaped palm).

Combining these (selected) guidelines produces the following sequences for the elemental variation in 'palm shape' and 'finger length':

ELEMENTAL SEQUENCE 1) Palm shape variation sequence: earth > air > fire > water
ELEMENTAL SEQUENCE 2) Finger length variation sequence: water > air > fire > earth

NOTICE: The sequence for finger length variation is also derived from the fundamental insight that hand shapes featured with inconsistent proportions (fire- & air hand shapes have in respective short/long fingers with long/short palms) are unlikely to show the same amount of variation that is seen in hand shapes featured with consistent proportions (earth- & water hand shape have in respective short/long fingers with short/long palms). This insight was recently described in the article: hand shape assessment 2.0, which describes some fundamental principles which provide a solid basis for biometric hand shape assessment (see also the illustration below).

Elemental hand shapes: the concepts.

- A handy biometric chart for elemental hand shape assessment! -

Elemental hand shape assessment through the metacarpal approach.

NOTICE: Palm breadth measured at the central palm represents a measure that depends on the muscular development in the upper thenar zone (a.k.a. the 'mount of mars-negative' in the field of palmistry), which may vary significantly during adult life. This explains why in (academic) scientific studies usually palm breadth at the end of the metacarpals is used as a measure for palm breadth (because it represents a more stable aspect of the hand compared to palm breadth at the center of the palm).

Find your Elemental Hand Shape in 4 steps!

The new chart (presented above) makes it fairly easy to find your hand shape in just 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Measure your finger length [FL], palm breadth [PB] and palm length [PL] according the PB/HL and FL/HL axes.
Step 2: Calculate your FL/PL ratio and PB/PL ratio.
Step 3: Find the point inside the chart which represents your ratio combination.
Step 4: Finally... find the colored dot that is located at the shortest distance to the point that corresponds with your hand shape; you can do this for each hand separately and take the average result!

Elemental hand shape assessment according
the 'metacarpal' approach!

When palm breadth is assessed with the 'metacarpal' approach, the proportional formulas (with PL always fixed at 10) for the classic elemental hand shapes can be described as follows:

Earth hand shape: FL=7 x PB=8.5 x PL=10
Fire hand shape: FL=7.25 x PB=7.75 x PL=10
Air hand shape: FL=7.75 x PB=8.25 x PL=10
Water hand shape: FL=8 x PB=7.5 x PL=10

Medium hand shape: FL=7.5 x PB=8 x PL=10

The full list of the classic- and mixed hand shapes according the 'metacarpal approach' can always be described with a combination of just 2 ratios; these may include: the palm breadth to hand length ratio [PB/HL] & finger length to palm length ratio [FL/HL], and the palm breadth to palm length ratio [PB/PL], finger length to palm length ratio [FL/PL], finger length to palm breadth ratio [FL/PL]. The details are ranked below according hand index (= PB/HL):

Earth hand shape:
FL=7 x PB=8.5 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 50% & FL/HL=41.18%, and: PB/PL=85%, FL/PL=70%, FL/PB=82.35%

Air-Earth mixed hand shape:
FL=7.375 x PB=8.375 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 48.2% & FL/HL=42.45%, and: PB/PL=83.75%, FL/PL=73.75%, FL/PB=88.06%

Fire-Earth mixed hand shape:
FL=7.125 x PB=8.125 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 47.45% & FL/HL=41.61%, and: PB/PL=81.25%, FL/PL=71.25%, FL/PB=87.69%

Air hand shape:
FL=7.75 x PB=8.25 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 46.48% & FL/HL=43.66%, and: PB/PL=82.5%, FL/PL=77.5%, FL/PB=93.94%

Medium hand shape:
FL=7.5 x PB=8 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 45.71% & FL/HL=42.86%, and: PB/PL=80%, FL/PL=75%, FL/PB=93.75%

Fire hand shape:
FL=7.25 x PB=7.75 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 44.93% & FL/HL=42.03%, and: PB/PL=77.5%, FL/PL=72.5%, FL/PB=93.55%

Water-Air mixed hand shape:
FL=7.875 x PB=7.875 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 44.06% & FL/HL=44.06%, and: PB/PL=78.75%, FL/PL=78.75%, FL/PB=100%

Water-Fire mixed hand shape:
FL=7.625 x PB=7.625 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 43.26% & FL/HL=43.26%, and: PB/PL=76.25%, FL/PL=76.25%, FL/PB=100%

Water hand shape:
FL=8 x PB=7.5 x PL=10 => PB/HL= 41.67% & FL/HL=44.44%, and: PB/PL=75%, FL/PL=80%, FL/PB=106.67%

Elemental hand shape & personality interpretation!

The following personality related principles have been used for the classic hand shape types at the former UK Cheirological society (hand examples downloaded from Christopher Jones' website, unfortunately the color of the prints doesn't match with the commonly used colors to describe the elements):

Earth hand shape (very short overall finger length & squarish palm shape) :

- Temperament: responsible, security conscious;
- Emotions: stable, usually calm & peaceful, strong sense of justice;
- Interests: gardening, animals, food, hand made work, collecting;
- Work: practical skills, outdoor work, land work.

Fire hand shape (= short overall finger length & oblong palm shape):

- Temperament: extravert, intense, motivated;
- Emotions: enthusiasm, exited, passionate;
- Interests: active entertainments, socializing, challenges, sports;
- Work: enterprise, business, industry.

Air hand shape (= long overall finger length & squad-oblong palm shape):

- Temperament: independent, intellectual, communicative;
- Emotions: unemotional, controlled, detached;
- Interests: finding out, reading, talking, languages;
- Work: writing, teaching, journalism.

Water hand shape (= very long overall finger length & narrow-oblong palm shape):

- Temperament: imaginative, idealistic, adaptable;
- Emotions: highly sensitive, delicate, romantic;
- Interests: music, poetry, dreams, psychic mysteries;
- Work: caring work, charitable work, spiritual vocations.


- 'Overall finger length' refers to the AVERAGE of FL/PL and FL/PB!

- Earth hand shape can also be described to represent a 'Brachycheir' (or Hyperbrachycheir) hand shape with short fingers;
- Medium hand shape can also be described to represent a 'Mesocheir+' hand shape with long finger length;
- Medium hand shape can also be described to represent a 'Mesocheir' hand shape with medium finger length;
- Medium hand shape can also be described to represent a 'Mesocheir-' hand shape with short finger length;
- Water hand shape can also be described to represent a 'Dolichocheir' (or Hyperdolichocheir) hand shape with long finger length.

More about the history & fundamentals
of hand shape interpretation!

The following sources are recommended for further reading about hand shape:

The history of hand shape assessment!
• Psychological studies in hand shape by German medic Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869)
Lynn's intro to 5 Element Chirology
Jennifer Hirsch describes hand shapes inside the paragraph: 'Shaping the information in your hand!
Mark Seltman presents: palmistry & the 4 basic hand shape archetypes
Richard Unger presents: 150+ mythological hand shape archetypes (see bottom of the article)
Palmistry & hand shape: related physical characteristics & personality type
5 Hand shapes derived from the 'hand index': Hyperdolichocheri, Dolichocheri, Mesocheri, Brachycheri & Hyperbrachycheri
Understanding hand shape: evolution, genetics, sex, ethnicity & personality!
Hand shape gives a clue about Genes, Chromosomes & DNA!
Extraverts have wider palms, introverts have longer fingers!
Hands shape & biometry!

• Discover how hand shape proportions (all data based on the 'metacarpal' approach) vary compared to the average human hand size in: China & Japan (pages 51-53), India (page 73+74), Mauritius, Nigeria, The Netherlands (via menu), Turkey (page 1121), UK, and the US.

* Special thanks to Lynn Seal, who shared her rich experience regarding the assessment of elemental hand shapes with dedication - which became very helpful to develop a full set of proportional formulas for hand shape assessment through the metacarpal perspective!



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