Chiromancy (Gr.Chiromancy 0400231 hand, andChiromancy 0400232divination), the pretended art of judging the character and foretelling the fortune of a person from the aspect of his hand. The elements to be observed are the thumb and fingers, nails, joints, lines, and mountains. There are 15 joints, three to each finger, two to the thumb, and one connecting the hand and arm. There are four principal lines. The line of life (linea vitalis), which is the most important, curves from the side of the hand between the thumb and forefinger, around the base of the thumb, to the centre of the wrist joint. The line of health (linea naturalis, or cephalica) has the same origin as the line of life, and extends directly across near the centre of the hand. The line of fortune or happiness (linea mensalis) is nearly parallel to the latter, and extends from near the base of the forefinger to near the base of the little finger. The line of the joint (linea rasceta) is the fold which marks the passage from the hand to the arm. There is a fifth line (linea hepatica), not found in all hands, which extends from the middle of the wrist joint to the base of the little finger. There are seven mountains (montes), named after the seven planets of the ancients.

The elevation at the base of the thumb is the mountain of Venus; forefinger, that of Jupiter; middle finger, that of Saturn; third or ring linger, that of the sun; little finger, that of Mercury. The elevation on the lower side of the hand, between the mountain of Mercury (from which it is separated by the line of fortune) and the lower extremity of the line of health, is the mountain of the moon; and the elevation between the mountain of the moon and the line of the joint is the mountain of Mars. Among the laws of chiromancy are the following: The observations must always be upon the person's left hand. If the line or fold of the joint presents four distinct, equal, and straight furrows, the person will speedily attain to wealth and honors; if short perpendicular lines proceed from it toward the arm, he will be exiled; if toward the palm of the hand, he will go upon a long journey. If the line of life is regular and deeply colored, it predicts a long and happy life; if it is tortuous, colorless, feebly marked, and broken, it announces ill health and short life; if it is narrow, but long and well colored, it indicates wisdom and ingenuity; if deep and unequally colored, it denotes malice; if cut near the centre by two slight but well defined transverse lines, it is the sign of approaching death.

If the line of health (also called the line of wit) is clear and regular, it indicates excellence of mind and body; if the opposite, it indicates feebleness, timidity, and illness. The line of fortune, according to its various phases of distinctness and directness, indicates happiness or misery, and a pleasant or unpleasant natural temper; if it begins close to the upper side of the hand, it indicates pride; if very red in its upper part, envy; if crossed by one line so as to form the Latin cross, generosity; if by several small lines near the middle, duplicity. The line of the triangle, when present, usually promises great success after great difficulties. The mountain of Venus, when smooth and unfurrowed, indicates a happy temperament; that of Jupiter, a heart inclined to virtue; that of Saturn, simplicity of character and love of labor; that of the sun, vivacity and eloquence; that of Mercury, firmness in men and modesty in women; that of the moon, tranquillity of mind, inclining to melancholy; and that of Mars, courage and heroism. The various lines and shades of color on each of the mountains have special significance. Small lines appearing near the little finger, parallel with the line of fortune, are the lineae matrimoniales, and promise a happy marriage.

The milky way (via lactea) extends downward on the mountain of the moon from the line of the joint toward the little finger. If this is long apparent, it signifies success in study and the arts, or fortune in a foreign land. Small white spots on the nails announce happiness and the fulfilment of hopes, at a more remote period according as they are near the root of the nail. - Chiromancy was practised throughout pagan antiquity, was regarded by Aristotle as a certain science, and was in great esteem among the disciples of Pythagoras. The augurs of Rome, and the emperor Augustus himself, practised it. During the later middle ages it was chiefly in the hands of gypsies, and was studied, like alchemy and astrology, by such philosophers as Albertus Magnus, Cardan, Roger Bacon, and Paracelsus. The church, which passed severe judgments on magical arts, tolerated chiromancy, only forbidding all alliance between it and astrology, and all interference of it with the doctrine of human liberty. A rationalistic view of chiromancy is that all actions, passions, and thoughts leave their traces on the body, and that from the conformation of the hand, its furrows, folds, colors, veins, hardness or softness, an experienced and skilful eye can determine the person's habits, social position, and the stronger tendencies of his character.

The most important writers on the subject are Artemidorus (In the 2d century), Codes (Bologna, 1504), Pic-cioli (Bergamo, 1578), De la Chambre (Paris, 1653-'4), Pratorius (Jena, 1661-'4), May (the Hague, 16G5), Pompeji (Venice, 1680), In-genbert (Frankfort, 1742), Peuschel (Leipsic, 1769), and especially the anonymous authoress of the Grand jeu de societe (Paris, 1845), which contains an account of ancient and modern chiromancy.