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Old 06-17-2006, 12:04 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Posts: 10,581
They didn't always do that. I've seen early paintings in which the supplicants put up their hands, palm outwards. (Much like the guesture you would make if someone said you were being robbed.)

I have also seen images of people praying in which they stand with elbows bent at their sides, their hands outstretched with palms turned upwards, and images in which the supplicant crosses their arms over their chest to pray. (Like a pretzel, which is supposedly where the form came from.)

Mt WAG is that it came into vogue because of the number of tomb effigies which showed the person lying there, with hands pressed together in front of them as a way of demonstrating piety. (Like here, the tomb of Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York.) You see it so often on medieval tombs, that my guess is that hands-clasped image became the sterotypical image of prayer used in art.
Quid quid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.