Educational Library


History of Dermatoglyphics

In its endeavor to improve its skills and capacity, the human race spares no effort to discover tools, assistance, and techniques. At IMI Infinity, we view the analysis of Fingerprints as an integral part of this overall effort. Here we present a quick tour of the field and its development over the years.

pic-galtonImproving the capabilities of the human race was the central interest of the work of Sir Francis Galton. He happened to be a first cousin of Charles Darwin, the pioneering evolutionist. Sir Galton had written a work on family trees and inter-breeding. He also evinced a keen interest in fingerprints. His initial interest was in their use for the purpose of infallible identification, but his curiosity was furthered when he came across J.Purkinje's work. He sought to develop on J.Purkinje's nine finger patterns and evolved a terminology for the field of dactylography.

pic-purkinjeThe Czech biologist, J Purkinje was the first to formally classify fingerprint patterns and he created a nine pattern system. J.Purkinje was the man who developed the world's first Department of Physiology and the first-ever Physiology lab at the University of Breslau, around the late 1830s. He had introduced the terms "plasma" and "protoplasm", and discovered sweat glands in 1833. Purkinje also has a crater on the moon named after him. Such was the versatility of the trailblazer in the field of fingerprint patterns.

Inspired by Purkinje, but in line with his own interest in families, Sir Galton examined hereditary aspects of fingerprints, compared hands of twins, and studied related and unrelated individuals. The subject of Fingerprints had been referred to Sir Galton by none other than Charles Darwin, to whom, an expert Dr. H. Faulds had written to share his fingerprint classification system.

pic-herschelAt IMI Infinity, we note the strong Indian connection with the advancement of this field. W. J. Herschel who published a paper in the late 19th century in the journal "Nature" reported the use of the fingerprints for identifying people, and upon the experience of doing so in Bengal. It was in India that the popular Henry system (named after Sir Edward R. Henry, a police officer stationed in India) was developed which spread to most English-speaking countries.

In the Henry classification, there are three basic fingerprint patterns: the loop, the whorl, and the arch which are respectively manifested in 60-65%, 30-35% and 5% of all fingerprints. Now these patterns can be classified in more complex ways and subdivided further, such as arches can be seen as plain arches or tented arches, loops can be ulnar or radial, and whorls can be plain, accidental, peacock's eye, composite, double loop etc.

Our own team of analysts and counselors is committed to deepening the knowledge, particularly that of application in the field, so that strong testimonials from beneficiaries will draw more people to the advantages of consulting brain mapping through Dermatoglyphics.

pic-cumminsDermatoglyphs is a word suggested by Professor H Cummins about eighty years ago, and he presented it at the annual conference of the American Association of Anatomists. It describes the scientific fields of study of the palmar and plantar ridges of the hands and feet. Professor H Cummins wrote a book in 1943, titled Finger Prints, Palms and Soles, which turned out to be a seminal landmark in the field of Dermatoglyphics. Professor H Cummins and Rebecca W. Kennedy had also presented a paper, "Purkinje's observations on fingerprints and other skin features" which was published in The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

Following in his book's illustrious tradition, several writers have offered their expertise and fruits of research to the world. It is important to acknowledge their contribution. In the course of their dedicated study, these writers cultivated an eye for dermatoglyphic detail and made very fine observations. Their practice over decades also enhanced their powers of judging strengths and weaknesses in individuals. We will here look at only a few of them, while there are a great number of meritorious workers in the field.

While we just mentioned the ancient Indian dissertations on the subject, we also recall the Wu Hsing method from China which was quite a sophisticated system. The Wu Hsing method combines a number of parameters : the significance for each finger, the type of print, its direction and the epicenter. This yields a rich depiction of an individual's propensities and tendencies. And each human individual is truly unique, and as the 13th century Persian physician Rashid-al-Din Hamadani commented on the Chinese system of fingerprint identification : "Their experience demonstrates that no two individuals have fingers exactly alike."

Recent Advancements and Contributions to Dermatoglyphics

Darlene Hansen compared the Chinese view with the classic perspective of Professor H. Cummins. She noted that the whorls symbolize the yang (masculine) element while the loops symbolize the yin (feminine) element in Chinese thought. The whorl indicates someone who can be ruthless in pursuing their end, while the loop is further classified into ulnar loop (complacent people) and radial loop (stronger individualism). Loops can be termed radial or ulnar, depending on the side of the hand toward which the tail points. Radial loops start on the thumb-side of the finger (and indicates more resolute people), the side closer to the radius, while Ulnar loops start on the side closer to the ulna, the lower arm bone.

The differentiation between the Plain Arch and the Tented Arch may also be noted. The plain arch has a consistency of flow from one side of the finger to the other, cascading upward slightly like a wave. In the Tented Arch, the ridges in the center are not continuous and adjacent ones converge and point upward like in a tent cone.

In 1967, Beryl B. Hutchinson published years of research working with the Society for the Study of Physiological Patterns (SSPP), formed under Noel Jaquin. The SSPP collected a library of thousands of prints, which included extensive notes and observations from Hutchinson. In her book, Your Life in Your Hands, she noted that the fingerprint patterns demonstrated a person’s personality traits formed before birth. She recognized a wider variety in prints and meanings based on the finger where the print formed, as well as differentiated between various types of whorls and loops.

Dr. Scheimann studied the indications of abnormality that can be inferred by looking at fingerprints. He discovered that loops and whorls are most common, and the most frequently seen palmar pattern is the tented type. For instance, he declared that having the same fingerprint on all fingers (both hands) is a sign of a congenital defect. He also suggested other danger signals associated with neurotic issues - ill-formed ridges etc. Dr. Scheimann also added to the pattern descriptions in terms of traits given by Noel Jaquin.

In a sense, Dr. Scheimann can also be said to be the creator of the "thumb-rule" wherein in the absence of a dominant pattern, he inspected the thumb pattern to yield the overall personality. About three decades ago, Carol White in her book offered her take on some of the above.Sasha FentonTo the five fingerprints inspected and explained by Noel Jaquin, Sasha Fenton and Malcolm Wright added the Peacock's Eye in their discussion in 1986 publication, and followed up with a simplified presentation a decade later.

An outstanding researcher in recent times has been P. G. Tesla who has recognized and defined thirty six types of fingerprints and twenty types of dermal patterns. Apart from whorl, loop ( ulnar and radial), arch and tented arch, he cites coil, tri-radius, pocket loop, opposing loops, entwined loops, cross patch etc. Tesla's comprehensive interpretation of all the patterns he describes is contained in his impressive book "Complete Science of Hand Reading."

In 2012, a research study titled "General Assumption of Psychological Behavior Based on Finger Print Pattern" into thousands of fingerprints of both criminals and non-criminals. In the research, based on the combined work of Harold Cummins, Sir Edward Henry, Noel Jaquin, Carol Hellings White and Beryl B. Hutchinson, the study authors compared previous personality traits identified by fingerprint loops, arches, whorls and composite types.

This fascinating field has evoked the interest of layman, professional, and specialist. It promises to yield more of its secrets and benefits in the future as many inquiries and observations are underway. At IMI Infinity, our motivation is to share the information with our colleagues, educators and clients. Valuable updates will be made herein from time to time.

Grouping of Fingerprint Patterns

There are three principal groups of Fingerprint patterns, and each group displays common characteristics. Each group of patterns has sub-groups. The groups and subgroups are as follows:


plain-archPlain Arch


 Tented Arch


radial-oopRadial Loop

ulnar-loopUlnar Loop


plain-whorl  Spiral Whorl

central-pocket-oopTarget Whorl

double-loop-whorlDouble Loop Whorl

accidental-whorlAccidental Whorl