Cheirological Society of Great Britain (Dukes)

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Cheirological Society of Great Britain (Dukes)

The original Cheirological Society of Great Britain, the most prominent British organization promoting the art of palmistry, was founded in 1889 by Katherine St. Hill and continued to be active through the early decades of the twentieth century. The society began to lose strength during the 1930s and appears to have dissolved by the end of the decade. In the decades after World War II (1939-45), its place was taken by the Society for the Study of Physiological Patterns. In the 1970s, a new Cheirological Society of Great Britain emerged around the person of Terence Dukes. Dukes is the author of Chinese Hand Analysis (1987), a popular textbook on palmistry.

The society has prepared a course of study for palmists and offers classes to students who reside in the London area. The introductory class lasts for six to ten weeks. Nonresident students may work with a personal tutor via correspondence. Those who complete the several phases of the course of study may be awarded a Foundation, Intermediate, or Advanced diploma as appropriate.

According to Dukes, during the St. Hill eraalthough she and the other leaders of the society concentrated on Western palmistry techniquesthey also initiated the study of Eastern techniques, beginning with their meeting and conversations with two Chinese diplomats, Li Wen Tien and Li Tsu Cheng, who were working out of the Chinese embassy in London. Additional Chinese teachings were introduced through the Theosophical Society and by students who had resided in China while working in the tea business. These Chinese teachings have been restated by Dukes in Chinese Hand Analysis, which is now the fundamental text of the society.

The position assumed by Dukes concerning the history of the society and of its appropriation of Chinese hand reading techniques have been challenged by Andrew Fitzherbert, the noted historian of palmistry. He suggests that Dukes has been unable to establish any organizational continuity between the society he heads and the St. Hill organization. He has also charged that Dukes has deliberately falsified much of the account of his own appropriation of the Chinese hand reading tradition, including his use of a photo of an unidentified Chinese individual found in a collection of photos at the Smithsonian Institute as the Master Ching Kang Szu, the head of the Wu Hsing (Five Elements) method of hand reading which Dukes advocates. Fitzherbert also notes that Dukes' teachings are unlike those found in other books of Chinese palmistry; rather they appear to draw heavily from the ideas of several Western texts, especially Fred Gettings' 1965 publication The Book of the Hand.

The Cheirological Society may be contacted through its library at 29 London Rd., East Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1AS, United Kingdom. It has a website at It is affiliated with a set of related structures, including the General Council and Register of Cheirology (which regulates awards and licenses in cheirology), the Society of Hand Analysts, the British College of Cheirology, and the Faculty of Cheirological Practitioners.


Campbell, Edward D. The Encyclopedia of Palmistry. New York: Perigee, 1996.

Dukers, Terence. Chinese Hand Analysis. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1987.

Fitzherbert, Andrew. "Terry Dukes and the Cheirological Society." May 26, 2000.