How to Look at a Palm

Marion Grant. “Left hand palm.” Photograph, Ryerson University, 8 February 2017.

© Copyright 2017 Marion Grant, Ryerson University.

Gazing closely upon a palm one would notice thousands of thin, curved lines etched into the surface of the hand which intersect at seemingly random points. No consistency appears from the lines, no pattern is evident among them. They vary in size and depth and cover every inch of the human palm. These etches are referred to as “palmer flexion creases” and are developed in Utero between the twelfth and nineteenth week of gestation (Howell; Robinson 95). While these engravings may appear to occur randomly, an entire culture referred to as palmistry was created based on the concept of studying the relationship between palm lines and ones future.

Due to the randomness of the creases, the studying of palms is quite ambiguous and relies heavily on individual perception. There is no formula for understanding palms but rather a guide, which provides diagrams and explanations on how to interpret the creases. Similar to fingerprints, palms are unique to each individual person and will never perfectly fit any one specific diagram. Palm reading can only be accomplished by someone closely studying and comparing the palms and the diagrams in order to gain insight about their future.

There are three major components of palm study which consist of the life, head, and heart lines. These lines are typically the thickest and stand out more than the many minor lines that surround them. The first thing to do when looking at a palm is to find these lines as that will serve as a basis for the rest of palm study. Each line is attributed to a certain aspect of someone’s existence. The life line indicates specifically how energetic and fulfilling one will live their life based on depth, color, and if it intersects with other lines on the hand. It is located the closest to the wrist and runs from the top of the thumb to the middle of the palm (Robinson 98-100). The head line is a visual barometer to one’s mental health and is located in between the heart and life lines. Frays and forks in the head line could indicate mental instability whereas a longer, a more pronounced line could indicate stability (Robinson 104-108). The heart line, which runs closest to the fingers, indicates how well one would perform in relationships with family, friends, or partners. Stronger lines indicate a person who is more nurturing and caring in their relationships (Robinson 101-103).

The line layout on a palm will not remain the same from birth to death. While the major lines will change very little, they may slightly alter in depth or color. It is believed that lines could change or alter as a result of work, social life, or changing ideologies (Robinson 95). As one ages other minor lines may appear on the hand. The addition of minor lines to major lines may add fraying which would indicate an interruption or loss of energy within the heart, head, or life line whenever they appear (Robinson 113).

Just as life is not fixed, neither are our hands. Hands are ever changing and there is no way of knowing when they will change, which makes the art of studying them even more difficult. Looking at a palm is not an act that could be done just once when trying to interpret an individuals future. As one’s life moves towards a new path the palm will reflect this transition. This demands for palm readers to closely study the thin and intricate creases in the palm over time and compare what they see to those they saw last time. This invokes the idea of balancing time spent identifying the microscopic differences to read about the pathway ones life is on and actually living it.


Images in this online exhibit are either in the public domain or being used under fair dealing for the purpose of research and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education.


Works Cited

Elkins, James. “How to Use Your Eyes.” Routledge, 2009.,

Grant, Marion. “Left hand palm.” Photograph, Ryerson University, 8 February 2017.

Howell, Elizabeth. “Why Do Humans Have Palm Lines?” Live Science, 21 May 2013,

Robinson, Rita. “Discover Yourself Through Palm Reading: Learning How to Read Yourself and Your Future, Line by Line.” Career Press, 2002, pp. 93- 114. Ryerson University Library and Archives,