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Undisturbed by any human activity, the drab landscape of the Atacama Desert looks more like an alien scene than a desert. There is a small gravel road 75 kilometers south of the town of Antofagasta, signposted 1309 on the Pan-American Highway, which leads to the 11-meter-tall mysterious giant hand. It bursts out of the sand. This is the work of Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal. It’s called La Mano del Desierto, also known as “The Hand of the Desert.”

Mysterious giant hand hidden in the most desolate desert

To represent the vulnerability and helplessness of Chileans, especially the miners in the Antofagasta district, the far-flung center of Chile’s copper mining industry, sculptor Mario Irarrázabal created four outstretched fingers and a thumb. It reminds one of a giant who was buried alive and stretched his hands to the sky to ask for help.

This hand is located 75 kilometers outside the city. That it was buried in such a desolate place, so far from civilization, gave it a profound effect that Mario wanted to share with the world.

It makes one wonder how a monument like this was built in a place where there is no water for miles… The statue is taller than an NFL goal and was completed in 1992.


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