Maj. Bill Eberhardt touches noses (Hongi) with a Maori warrior during a Powhiri, or welcoming ceremony, at Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wikimedia Commons is an important resource for photos and media used on Wikipedia and various sister projects. But it is also an amazing store of images that can be freely used in so many other applications, personal or professional, provided you adhere to the prescriptions in the free licenses used on the media.

We thought it would be a useful exercise to pick a theme and see how many interesting images we could find that fit the theme. We chose to center this photo essay on “greetings.” We were delighted to find with the initial search queries of “welcome” and “greeting,” that the subject yielded such a diverse range of images. We sought to expand the search by thinking more broadly about the myriad types of greetings around the world. After reading the article on Wikipedia, a greeting is an act of communication in which human beings (as well as members of the animal kingdom) intentionally make their presence known to each other.

After searching for “greeting” we tried “waving,” “hug,” “kiss,” “haka,” peace sign” and several other search terms. Photos on Commons are sorted into many different categories. So if you already found an image related to the theme you are interested in, it can be useful to click on the categories which appear at the bottom of the image page, below the metadata, to find other images on the same topic. As an example for our search, here is the category for hand waving. If you know a useful category that is missing in the image, you can help Commons by adding it yourself – click “edit” and follow these instructions.

The following gallery shows some of our favorite results, which we’ve selected for the array of greetings they illustrate.

Jordon Hu, Communications Intern
With assistance from Matthew Roth, Global Communications Manager, and Commons contributor InverseHypercube

A Nepalese man demonstrating the "hand wave"

Royal wedding

Wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling; Cortège at Slottsbacken

Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall on the day he broadcast to the nation that the war with Germany had been won, 8 May 1945

Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall on the day he broadcast to the nation that the war with Germany had been won, 8 May 1945

Tennis player Simone Bolelli waves to the audience at the 2012 French Open

US baseball player Nick Swisher waving

Movie director Ang Lee at the Venice International Film Festival

Sumo wrestlers gather in a circle around the gyoji (referee) in the dohyō-iri (ring-entering ceremony).

The All Blacks greeting the French national team with the tradtional "Haka"

U.S. President Richard Nixon's iconic wave with victory sign

Iraqi boys giving peace sign Iraqi boys giving peace outside the Amiriya bomb shelter memorial in Baghdad

Peace signs during protests in Yemen

Free hugs on offer in Tokyo

The England National Rugby team participates in a group hug

Wrestlers Magnum TOKYO and Tajiri hug in the ring prior to a tag team match

Hillary Clinton embraces Aung San Su Kyi

Donald Tusk hugs Jean-Claude Juncker at the European People's Party Congress in Warsaw

Ben Huh, owner of I Can Has Cheezburger?, hugging 4chan founder moot at en:ROFLCon II

Robonaut, a humanoid robot created by NASA, shaking hands with a human astronaut

U.S. President Harry S. Truman greets Josef Stalin at the Potsdam Conference

Photograph shows President Jimmy Carter shaking hands with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty on the grounds of the White House

A young girl curtsies as she presents flowers to Queen Elizabeth II on a tour of Australia

Denis Thatcher(husband of U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) kisses the hand of U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan

A child kisses a baby

A wedding photo kiss in Portland, OR, USA

A man kissing a dolphin at Discovery Cove theme park

Vincent Clerc prepares to blow a kiss

Psyche revived by Cupid's kiss, by Antonio Canova

A U.S. Navy Scuba Diver gives a child a high-five

Marco Scutaro of the Toronto Maple Leafs fist bumps his First Base Coach Dwayne Murphy

A woman demonstrates Namaste

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Carney returns a boy's traditional Thai greeting

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Carney returns a boy's traditional Thai greeting

Kabuki performers bowing following their performance

A woman bows to an Orca Whale in Osaka, Japan

Elephants greeting each other on the plains of Tanzania

Black-tailed prairie dogs "kissing"

Two parakeets getting close at Avifauna, the Netherlands

Emperor penguins leaning in