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Revision as of 17:04, 13 January 2014

"Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers!"
Borgin explaining the artefact's power to Draco Malfoy.[src]

The Hand of Glory is a dark artefact, a shrivelled hand which gives light only to the holder.

Known owners

During the summer before his second year, Draco Malfoy visited Borgin and Burkes with his father. There, he saw the Hand of Glory and asked if he could buy it, with Borgin explaining its powers and connecting its usage to thieves and plunderers, which led Draco's father, Lucius, to scorn the idea of his son needing such a thing.

Regardless, Draco purchased it sometime before his sixth year, and made use of it during his plot to assassinate Albus Dumbledore. He used it to escape from the Room of Requirement after using Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder to make it impossible for anyone to see him leave the room.

Etymology and history

The Hand of Glory is a magical instrument which appears often in mystic lore. In general, it is described as a severed and preserved human hand, (maybe made of wax) with a candle implanted on it. The various powers ascribed to a Hand Of Glory include the ability to immobilise anyone who looks at it, or unlock any door it comes across. It was traditionally used by thieves, since it allowed them to see in otherwise total darkness, open locked doors, and immobilise guards. In some dark magical ceremonies, Hands of Glory were reputed to have been used as the source of illumination.

Various grisly myths surround the making of a Hand of Glory (which fits well with the reputation of Borgin and Burkes). The hand is said to be that of an executed criminal (usually by hanging); most often the criminal himself is a murderer or other serious felon. Other myths say that a hanged man's blood is necessary to the recipe, or that his body fat is used to make the candle.

The myth is probably derived from the (European) Mandrake plant (Mandragora officinarum). Etymologically, the name "Mandragora" closely resembles the French phrase "Main de la Gloire," ("Hand of Glory") The actual Mandrake plant produces a number of alkaloid toxins, including scopolamine and mandragorine, and has been used since ancient times as an anesthetic. Chewing the root can cause stupor.

A Hand of Glory appears prominently in the climax of John Bellairs's young adult novel The House With A Clock In Its Walls, as well as the Hellboy story "Box Full of Evil". They are also used in Charles Stross's Laundry Files series of paranormal spy thrillers.

Behind the scenes


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