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TO MARCH 3
Look at your hands: Underneath that bad manicure and the calluses, those poorly maintained extremities are, in fact, tools that we humans have used since before the dawn of PalmPilots. In early-modern Europe, hands functioned as devices that would rival today’s most advanced software packages. Music theory, advanced calculations, and, of course, the ability to communicate with the deaf were all digit-dependent. And those are just the physical and practical applications. The hand was also seen as a symbol of faith, a metaphysical key to the universal map and a clue to divine creativity. The Folger Shakespeare Library highlights our five-finger devices in “Writing on Hands: Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe,” an exhibit offering around 80 miniatures, prints (Hand as a Sundial is pictured), and drawings from the 15th through the 17th century exalting the importance of the hand. The show is divided into six parts, which all serve to illustrate how important and remarkable our hands are. So reward yours for years of hard work and take them on a field trip to admire their glorious past. “Writing on Hands: Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe” is on view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday, to Saturday, March 3, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Free. (202) 544-4600. (Lisa Locker)