"What did he teach you of pain?"
Heru'ur before torturing Olaf with the Kara Kesh[src]

The Kara kesh, also called a hand device or a ribbon device, is a multifunctional Goa'uld apparatus, and an example of their use of technology in deceiving others. It is, with the possible exception of the Staff weapon, the single most distinctive piece of Goa'uld weaponry.


"Put your hand down!"
Jack O'Neill to Korra[src]
Kara kesh 3

A kara kesh.

The hand device takes the form of a gold or silver colored metal ribbon, which wraps around the fingers, hand and forearm of the user; a red gem is nestled in the palm. The hand device is typically worn on the left arm (with the exception of Ra's, which was worn on the right hand), with a red gem in the center of the palm. Silver versions tend to be used by Underlords, suggesting the color denotes the status of the user. It is controlled by a neural interface, and is powered by Naquadah in the user's blood, functionally rendering it impossible to use except by those who are or have been host to a Goa'uld symbiote. As a result of this functionality, the Kara Kesh must be worn next to the skin, although many users wear long sleeves, leaving only the finger coverings and the gem visible (hence the term "hand device", even though it covers the whole forearm).

Battle of Juna 1

Cronus' activated shield on his Kara kesh.

The Kara kesh has numerous functions with a variety of controls on its surface that can be used by its user. It can fire waves of kinetic energy from the palm, repelling or even killing adversaries. It has a shield to block attacks, and can absorb Zat'nik'tel blasts without harming the user. It can also emit a fiery beam of energy to torture or kill a victim. This same energy beam can allow the host to form a neural link with the victim in order to share information. (SG1: "Children of the Gods", "Thor's Chariot", "Seth", "Forever in a Day", "Double Jeopardy")

The device can also wirelessly control Goa'uld technology, triggered through a button on the back of the palm. This is usually used to control the Transportation rings and later Asgard transporters. It has enough range to contact ships in orbit in order to trigger this function. (SG1: "The Curse", "Chimera", "Endgame", "Reckoning, Part 2")


Kara kesh 2

Terok using his hand device.

The Goa'uld hand device has a number of abilities:

  • Emitting a series of constant electrical bolts when placed upon the head of a victim. The bolts cause the victim's head to shake rapidly and eventually, "scrambling their brains" as said by Dean Devlin. (Stargate)
  • Firing a powerful kinetic energy wave, capable of throwing grown humans several meters with significant force. It can potentially kill the target if they impact a solid surface nearby. According to Selmak, a hand device is one of the few handheld weapons capable of penetrating the energy shields of other hand devices. (Stargate, SG1: "The Curse", "Seth", "Between Two Fires")
  • Shooting a deadly fiery energetic neural link that connected to the brain of another person with the intention of torturing or killing them. (SG1: "Thor's Chariot", "Forever in a Day", "The Serpent's Venom")
Kara kesh 2

Sokar using the energy shield to deflect a staff weapon blast.


The Supreme System Lord Ra made use of this device on Abydos and used it to execute one of his soldiers after the warriors failure in retrieving the Humans from Earth. He furthermore attempted to execute Dr. Daniel Jackson with the Kara kesh but he was distracted when the Transportation rings was activated and Daniel was able to push Ra's hand away from his forehead, thus allowing him to live. (Stargate)

Apophis' attack on Stargate Command 5

Apophis stunning a potential host.

Apophis used his Kara kesh to stun Senior Airman Carol Weterings on Earth. He later used this same hand device to kill Weterings after she was rejected as a host for Apophis' queen, Amaunet. Apophis once again used the Kara kesh to hypnotize Sha're after he determined that she was perfect for Amaunet. (SG1: "Children of the Gods")

Whilst searching for the secrets of the Fenri on Gaia, Apophis' guards came under attack from SG-1 which attempted to kill the Goa'uld lord. However, Apophis activated his Kara kesh' shield which protected him from their weapons allowing him to kill them using a Staff weapon that was given to him by one of his warriors. (SG1: "The Nox")


Apophis' shield raised.

Hathor tried to kill Colonel Jack O'Neill, Captain Samantha Carter, Dr. Janet Fraiser and Teal'c with a kinetic blast from her hand device, but this only succeeded in damaging her already-damaged Sarcophagus which overloaded and exploded shortly after. (SG1: "Hathor")

Kara kesh 1

Daniel being subjected to the effects of the Kara kesh.

Klorel later used the Kara kesh to torture Daniel when SG-1 invaded Apophis' mothership. This ultimately forced Jack, who regarded Klorel's host, Skaara, as a friend, to fatally shoot Klorel. (SG1: "Within the Serpent's Grasp")

On Cimmeria, Kendra kept possession of the Kara kesh that her Goa'uld had owned. After Kendra was killed during Heru'ur's invasion of the planet, it came into the possession of Carter, who tried to use it but lacked control over the device. When Heru'ur invaded the Protected Planet, he was challenged by the natives who were devotees of the Asgard Thor. Olaf stated that their god taught them to have no fear of death. Heru'ur smirked and asked him what his god taught him of pain. He then tortured him with the Kara kesh. (SG1: "Thor's Chariot")

Assassination of Setesh

Seth attacks with his Kara kesh.

Seth retained a couple of Kara kesh during his millennia of hiding on Earth. When he was discovered by Stargate Command and the Tok'ra, he attempted to flee, but was challenged by Carter. Seth tried to use his kara kesh to kill her but she used another hand device to kill him first. (SG1: "Seth")

The Tok'ra Korra had a hand device while being hunted by Aris Boch. When SG-1 captured him, he fired a kinetic shot at Teal'c, who ducked in time to avoid the blast. (SG1: "Deadman Switch")

Osiris' return on Earth

Osiris using the kinetic function on his kara kesh.

Osiris' Kara kesh was left in an ancient temple in Egypt. Having taken Sarah Gardner as a host, Osiris made his way to the temple and was sure to arm himself with it before revealing his true identity to Daniel Jackson. Osiris nearly killed Daniel with the device but was wounded by a dart containing a powerful sedative. Weakened, Osiris activated his ship's rings in order to escape the planet. (SG1: "The Curse")

The Underlord Terok, who served Her'ur,used his Kara kesh to constantly torture Teal'c in order to break the Jaffa and force him to accept the Goa'uld as gods. (SG1: "The Serpent's Venom")

Kara kesh 1

Teal'c being tortured by the neural beam.

Tanith had a kara kesh on the new Tollan homeworld and used it to send Carter and Daniel flying backwards after they attempted to charge at him, but this was only a distraction to allow Narim to escape. (SG1: "Between Two Fires")

Ba'al escapes

Ba'al makes his escape.

The System Lord Ba'al used his hand device to escape his Ha'tak mothership through the use of an Asgard transporter after his vessel was boarded by members of the Rebel Jaffa. (SG1: "Reckoning, Part 2")

In an alternate timeline where the Stargate Program never existed, Qetesh had a Kara kesh and attempted to use it to kill Teal'c after he discovered that the Sovereign was killed by his queen. (SG1: "Continuum")


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