The Thumb

In the judgment of character by the formation of the Hand, the Thumb is

of about the same importance as the nose is to the face. It must be

understood to represent the natural Will Power, whereas the Line of Head

represents the Mental Will.

In my larger works on this subject I have gone into very deeply the

medical reasons why character should be expressed by the Thumb and the

extraordinary role it has played in civilisation, and also in the various

religions of the world.

The Thumb proper represents the three great worlds of ideas, viz., Love,

Logic, and Will.

Love is represented by the base of the Thumb which is covered on the hand

by the Mount of Venus.

Logic is the middle phalange, and Will is the top or nail portion.

When these divisions are found large, the qualities are increased; when

small, they play a smaller role in the life of the individual.

There are two distinct classes of Thumbs, the supple-jointed and the


The former of these divisions is the Thumb bending outwards and supple

at the joint underneath the nail.

This denotes a nature pliable and adaptable to others, very broad-minded,

rather unconventional, and not obstinate in its views of life. These

characteristics will be increased if the Head Line be found sloping and

bending downwards. If, however, the Line of Head be found lying straight

across the palm, they are more conventional. The "supple-jointed" thumb

also denotes generosity of mind both as regards thought and money. In all

ways these people are more extravagant than people who have the straight

firm-jointed thumb. In other words they "give more" even in what they

think as well as in what they do.

The nearer the Thumb approaches the side of the hand, or the more it

looks tied down or cramped to the palm, the more the subject is inclined

to grasp or hold. The true miser has always a thumb cramped towards the

hand, and the nail phalange as a rule slightly turned in, as if the mind

wanted to grab hold or retain.

The supple-jointed Thumb is more impulsive in its desire to give than is

the stiff-jointed class, whereas the latter type demands reflection

before he even gives an opinion.

If a favour should be asked of the man with the supple-jointed Thumb, one

should remember that he is more inclined to give in on the impulse of the

moment, and if one does not press one's point home at once, he is likely

first to promise, and later, on reflection, change his mind.

The man with the stiff-jointed Thumb on the

contrary, is more likely to refuse at first and on reflection to agree to

the proposition; but it he does make up his mind, he will stick to his

judgment or opinion, and the more he is opposed the more determined he

will be to hold to his view.




The firm-jointed thumb is then the outward sign of a more resisting

nature, and the longer the first or nail phalange is, the stronger and

more powerful the Will force.

These people seldom make friends so easily or rapidly as those belonging

to the other type. On a railway journey they rarely begin a conversation

with a fellow traveller, and if they have to do so it will generally be

in the form of an argument that "the window must be left open or shut,"

as the case may be. Heaven help the other poor traveller if he should

also happen to have a stiff thumb, and oppose his ideas to those of the


The supple-jointed class, on the contrary, enter readily into

conversation with strangers, and they often make their greatest friends

while travelling. They are affable, charming companions, and give in

readily to the wishes of others. In fact, this quality inclines to a

weakness that should be guarded against. Among all those men and women

who take the "easiest way" a large majority will be found to have very

supple-jointed thumbs. This, however, will be greatly qualified by the

position and appearance of the Line of Head, the indicator of the

developed mental Will.

To have a supple lower or middle joint does not relate to the Will but to

the phalange of Logic of the possessor. When this second joint is found

supple the subject adapts himself to circumstances rather than to

persons. He reasons out that he must bend or adapt himself to the

conditions or circumstances of the life in which he is placed.

The Clubbed Thumb, is so called from its being thick

like a club. People possessing this class of Thumb belong to the

Elementary type as far as Will is concerned. They are brutal and like

animals in their unreasonable obstinacy. If they are opposed they fly

into ungovernable passions and blind rages. They have no control over

themselves, and are liable to go to any extreme of violence or crime

during one of their tempers. In fact the clubbed-shaped Thumb has also

been designated "the murderer's thumb" on account of so many murderers

having been found with this formation.

The possessor of a Clubbed Thumb could not, however, plan out or

premeditate a crime, for he would not have the determined Will or power

of reason to think it out.

The shorter the Thumb, the nearer the possessor is to the brute in

passion and lack of self-control.

The "waist-like" Thumb, and the "straight" formation

(Fig. 5), must also be considered as the opposite of one another in their

characteristics, but in this case the difference is in the quality of

Logic or Reason. The former will not use or depend much on such things,

he will rely, on the contrary, on tact and diplomacy to gain his point or

win his way. The second class have little or no tact, but in all matters

depend on argument and reason.

The third phalange of the Thumb, which is placed under the designation of

Love (Plate VI., Part II.), when found long, denotes more control over

the quality of Love or Sensuality; when short and thick-set, the passion

or sensual nature is more brutal and animal.

The space at my disposal in this work will not allow me to go deeper

into all the shades of character that can be made out by a study of the

Thumb alone, but I think I have said enough to show my readers the great

truth in D'Arpentigny's words that "the Thumb individualises the man."

The Study Of The Shape Of The Hand The Via Lasciva facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail