Hand of Glory | Harry Potter Wiki


Hand of Glory


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 was a dark artefact, a shrivelled hand which gave candlelight only to the holder.[1] It could even shine through the veil created by Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, which was resistant to most light-creation spells.[2]


The Hand of Glory

During the summer before his second year, Draco Malfoy visited Borgin and Burkes with his father Lucius Malfoy. 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.[1]

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 with the Death Eaters he had let into the school, after using Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder to make it impossible for anyone to see him leave the room.[2]

During the Calamity which affected the Wizarding world in profound ways during the 2010s, the Hand of Glory was one of the numerous magical items and artefacts that mysteriously appeared throughout the world, called a Foundable, which was guarded by Pixie Confoundable. Volunteer wizards and witches of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force had to dispose of the Pixie Confoundables with the Slowing Charm, which would return the Foundable back to Borgin and Burkes, its original place of belonging.[3]

Behind the scenes


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,” meaning “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 anaesthetic. Chewing the root can cause stupor.

A Hand of Glory appears prominently in the climax of John Bellairs‘s dark fantasy 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 and Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series.



Notes and references

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