The Half-Buried Hand of the Atacama Desert

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
April 29 2014 10:00 AM

The Half-Buried Hand of the Atacama Desert

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Just outside the Chilean town of Antofagasta, the barren monotony of the Atacama Desert is shattered by what looks like a buried giant reaching out for help.

Mano del Desierto, a 36-foot-tall hand protruding out of the sand, is the work of the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal, and was inaugurated in 1992.

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Irarrázabal’s work is known for its portrayal of human vulnerability and helplessness — two concepts that certainly come across when viewing the unnerving, half-submerged palm.

The artist has installed other giant hands around the world: his trademark sculptured fingers reach out of Juan Carlos I Park in Madrid, a Venice sidewalk, and the sand of Punto del Este beach in Uruguay.

Other handy spots around the world:


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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.