Palmistry, also known as palm reading, chiromancy, or chirology, is the practice of fortune-telling through the study of the palm. The practice is found all over the world, with numerous cultural variations. Those who practice chiromancy are generally called palmists, hand readers, hand analysts, or chirologists.
There are many and often conflicting-interpretations of various lines and palmar features across various teachings of palmistry. Palmistry is practiced by the Hindu Brahmins, and is also indirectly referenced in the Book of Job. The contradictions between different interpretations, as well as the lack of evidence for palmistry's predictions, have caused palmistry to be viewed as a pseudoscience by academics.
Palmistry is a practice common to many different places on the Eurasian landmass; it has been practised in the cultures of India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Persia, Sumeria, Canaan and Babylonia.
The acupuncturist Yoshiaki Omura describes its roots in Hindu astrology (known in Sanskrit as jyotish), Chinese Yijing (I Ching), and Roma fortune tellers. Several thousand years ago, the Hindu sage Valmiki is thought to have written a book comprising 567 stanzas, the title of which translates in English as The Teachings of Valmiki Maharshi on Male Palmistry. From India, the art of palmistry spread to China, Tibet, Egypt, Persia and to other countries in Europe.
Palmistry also progressed independently in Greece where Anaxagoras practiced it. Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) reportedly discovered a treatise on the subject of palmistry on an altar of Hermes, which he then presented to Alexander the Great (356–323 B.C.E.), who took great interest in examining the character of his officers by analyzing the lines on their hands. A chapter of a 17th-century sex manual, misattributed to Aristotle, is occasionally incorrectly cited as being the treatise in question. The text it is not contained in his canonical works.
Palmistry is indirectly referenced in the Book of Job, which is dated by scholars generally to between the 7th and 4th centuries BCE.
In Renaissance magic, palmistry (known as "chiromancy") was classified as one of the seven "forbidden arts", along with necromancy, geomancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, and spatulamancy (scapulimancy). During the 16th century the art of palmistry was actively suppressed by the Catholic Church. Both Pope Paul IV and Pope Sixtus V issued papal edicts against various forms of divination, including palmistry.