About the Ring Finger & Marriage: how did they become associated?

May 15, 2011

Why is the ringfinger associated with marriage?

Since the classic Roman time the ring finger has been known to be associated with the wearing of rings in married men and women. The literature indicates that this early belief appears to origin in the idea that a nerve, vein or artery runs directly from the 4th digit to the heart, and therefore it became judged to be the seat of the emotions. Unfortunately medical science today appears not able to present any anatomical evidence that confirms this idea. Nevertheless, there are various other interesting explanations which describe how the ring finger became associated with marriage!

Despite the missing of anatomical evidence for a connection with the heart, there is alternative evidence which suggest that wearing a ring on the ring finger can be associated with the ‘control’ of brute emotions.


CASANOVA HAD THE LONG RING FINGER:

Anecdotal evidence is found in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova from Venice, who became known as one of the most famous ‘womanisers’ of all times. Casanova’s life as an adventurous writer took him across Europe, and in his memoirs about his stay in Spain we learn of the relative length of his fingers. Casanova described a dispute with the painter Anton Raphael Mengs about the ‘human condition’ of the ratio between the index finger and the ring finger. While Menge was claiming that his longer index finger was the correct human condition, Casanova claimed that his long finger was ”like that of all the children descended from Adam’.

But Casanova was not aware that his claim was basically only true for men only!


COMMITMENT WITH MARRIAGE:

Professor John Manning from the UK presented two books devoted to the ’2D:4D digit ratio’. In his first book, Manning presented some evidence that the wearing of rings in married women can be understood as an act of ‘advertising’ their commitment to their marriage.

Additionally, the study also demonstrated that a considerable lower percentage of the married men (29%) was wearing a ring on their ring finger – while the percentage was considerably higher for the married women (71%).


FINGER LENGTH REPRESENTS A PRENATAL MARKER:

Today especially the length of the ring finger became known as a prenatal marker for masculinity, and in all regions of the world studies have confirmed that in males the absolute length of the ring finger is usually longer than the absolute length of the index finger. And some studies have pointed out that the sexual dimorphism in finger measures is even more strongly expressed in the distal extent of fingertips than in the length of fingers.

In his second book ‘The Finger book’ Prof. John Manning describes a few references to scientific studies dating back to the 19th and early 20 century:

“The ‘Casanova pattern’ in the fingers is considered by some to be the mark of an ugly hand – an atavistic hand recalling brute instincts and behaviours, modelling the forms of the fingers of our monkey relatives. Thus the ‘beast’ in us is represented by the ring finger while the ‘beauty’ resides in the index finger. This notion has led to suggestions that the femininised ‘Mengs pattern’ is of a purer type, a hand which signifies emancipation from our primate ancestry. … Science, however, has been slow to identify the importance of such connections. That there is a sex difference in the relative length of men’s and women’s fing and index fingers has been known for more than a century. Compared to sex differences arising at puberty the finger ratio is modest in its size and visibility, and it has been neglegted.”

These considerations provide an explanation about why the 4th finger became known as the ‘ring finger’. The ringfinger became also known as the 4th finger or the annulus (digitus annularis).


RECOMMENDED BOOKS:

The following books about fingers are highly recommended to read much more about fingers (presenting various elements that can be described as ‘building stones’ in Mult-Perspective Palm Reading):

Fingerology (2010), authors: Hillary J. Kener & Michael Zeide

The Finger Book (2008), author: John T. Manning

Digit Ratio (2002), author: John T. Manning

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