Κύρια The Illustrated Book of Signs and Symbols: 1000s of Signs and Symbols From Around the World

The Illustrated Book of Signs and Symbols: 1000s of Signs and Symbols From Around the World

Miranda Bruce-Mitford, Nicola Hodgson, Kim Dennis-Bryan, Neil Lockley, Kathryn Wilkinson.
London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1996. — 127 p. — ISBN 0756633931.Why is a flag at half-mast a symbol of mourning? Why do brides in the West traditionally wear white, while Asian cultures associate this color with death? Discover answers to these and other mystifying questions in Signs & Symbols, a fully-illustrated guide that helps unlock the secret language of the signs, symbols, and traditions around us. A rich source of information for readers of all ages, this book is divided into two sections, first looking at major sources of symbols (basic shapes, colors and numbers, the natural world), then, placing symbols in context of mythologies and religions, the human life cycle, people and culture, and symbol systems. Clear cross-referencing illuminates connections between symbols, while beautiful artwork and photography make this a collector's edition to treasure.
Γλώσσα:
english
Σελίδες:
136
File:
PDF, 33.69 MB
Κατεβάστε (pdf, 33.69 MB)

You may be interested in Powered by Rec2Me

 

Most frequently terms

 
 
thelittlekraken
this download link is broken
30 July 2019 (00:34) 
You can write a book review and share your experiences. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Whether you've loved the book or not, if you give your honest and detailed thoughts then people will find new books that are right for them.
The Illustrated Book of

o
Horseshoe

Centaur
uellect

vs.

Symbol of Good Luck

y

Instinct

Tortoise
Symbol of Long

TAROT

Life

^S

lard of Decision

Thousands of Signs
and Symbols from Around the World
Miranda Bruce-Mitford

CADUCEUS
Tiblem of Medicine

Freemasonry
Compass and Square

The Illustrated Book of

Symbols
The essential reference for decoding
signs and symbols
The world around us is filled with signs
and symbols. Those we have chosen to create,
such as alphabets and

flags, are universally

recognizable, but others, of uncertain and ancient
origin,

mean

Why,

different things to different peoples.

for example,

love, or a snake a

West and

a sign

a red rose the flower

is

symbol of

of wisdom

in

of

evil in the

China? Find the

answers to these questions and thousands of
others in this comprehensive and stimulating
visual guide

of signs and symbols. Specially

commissioned

illustrations

and photographs,

including artifacts, famous paintings, and
sculptures, provide a

much-needed

visual

key to this mysterious language.

The ultimate visual catalog
Showing thousands of

signs

symbols from East and West, The
Book ofSigns

and
Illustrated

& Symbols not only gives the

meanings of each, but also explores the symbols'
origins in art, religion, literature, psychology,
folklore.

and

For ease of reference the signs and

symbols are grouped by category, from flowers

and

religious

symbols to shapes and numbers, and

a clear cross-referencing system directs the reader

to related signs and symbols.
to

waders of

into

ir>n

all

ages, this

Designed to appeal

book

is

a rich source

of

and an indispensable reference book

for interpreting

and understanding signs and

symbols

Do
Azt

in

everyday

life.

eaded Serpent
Associated with
-ivingRain

re

$24.95

The

Illustrated

Book of

«%«%%«« %.%'% %^%- % % % •,!..»

>

I « I I I « I 1 t I t I I

% t I I

t

~^S%S*^^S%S%S%S%s%*^S*^S%S%S%S*^S%S%S%S%S%S%S%S%S+'+S%S*^^+^S%S%S%S%S%S%s+.'%.

The

Illustrated

Book o; f

Miranda Bruce-Mitford

ALLSTON BRANCH LIBRARY

n

>««««««.%«•%

AL BR

REF
AZ108
B78
1996x

A DK PUBLISHING BOOK

Emma

Senior Editor

US Editor Camela
I

Foa

Decaire

Senior Art Editor Sarah Ponder

iJREDTODK

Shamrock

Managing Editor Anna Kruger
Managing Art Editor

Peter Bailey

Art Editors Joanna Pocock, Martin Wilson
Editor Shirin Pahi
Assistant Designer Ali Cobb

DTP

Designer Nicola Studdart

Picture Research Sharon Southren

Production Katy Holmes
Index

& Glossary

First

Joanna Lane

American Edition,

I

468 10^75
Published
b)

DK

m

the

I

I'M M1STR1

nited States

Publishing

in.

York 1001(1

Vk
it

us on the

Copyright

©

All rights reserved

Egyptun funerary stela

(detail)

Conventions.
in a retnc,

Wot Id Wide Web Imp //www

1996 Dorling Kinderslej

I

ilk

com

muted, London

under International and Pan American Copyright
ublication ma) be reproduced, stored
transmitted in any form 01 b) an) means,

No pan

electronic, mechanical, phot>

rding, or otherwise,
without the prior written permission of tl
pyright ownei
Published in Great Britain by Dorling Kindersle) imited.
I

A CIP
I

catalog record for this

bi

liable

from the Librar

Congress.

ISBN 0-7894-1000-1
Islamic

Colour reproduction by Colourscan, Singapore
Pnnted and bound in Spain by Artes Graficas Toledo, S.A.
1)1. TO 1192- 1999

Shiva,

1

1

>rd 01

mi dani

i

Contents
Introduction

Tools

6

Weapons

iSr

90

Mythologies

& Religions

& Mourning

Death

92

12

Architecture

Ancient Deities

94

H

l:\er\da\ Objects

Judaism

96

16
Christianity

Symbol Systems

18

Hinduism
20
Buddhism
22
Islam

24
Ancestor

& Nature Spirits

Sea Creatures

Picture Writing

Numbers

& Others

Insects

56
Reptiles & Amphibians
58

102

Shapes

60

Mythical Beasts

Birds

28

64

& Patterns
104

Color
106

Mammals

26

00

J

54

Alchemy
108

Freemason r\

Nature
Sun

32

& Moon

Sex

& Sk\

Divination

&

34
Earth

70

\\2

72

Heraldic Emblems
114

Dance

& Theater
76

Magic

& Charms

40

78

Gardens
42

Musical Instruments

Trees

^strolog)

Human Body

38
Precious Stones

no

Fertility

36
Precious Matter

109

People 68

International Signs

116

Symbolic Gestures
118

80
Love

&

Marriage

(

rloSSCU

44

82

120

Plants

Clothing

Index

4d

84

111

Natures Foods

Jewelr)

48

86

I

lowers

50

Royalt)

88

\

urthei Reading

I

117
\

(

bicw ledgments
IS
l

Signs

&

Symbols

Introduction
tO
A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF HUMAN" NATURE not Onlv
J
survive and reproduce, but also to seek explanations
for the mysteries of life. Because these mysteries are in

T

IS

nTTTBTTTTl SMTUGQ

<SM^

|JX.

/

beyond explanation, we use the language of
i
symbolism to represent them. Whether we live in
commercialized societies or communities relatively
unchanged by time, we are surrounded by signs,
images, and ideas that are often highly symbolic.
Most of us are largely unaware of the meaning and significance - even
the presence - of much of this symbolism, and an area of great richness
is closed to us. This book sets out to examine the nature of symbolism
and to present, in
fact

simple terms, both
familiar

and

unfamiliar symbols.

Signs or symbols?
A sign is an object or
idea that represents or

points to something else
in a fairly straightforward
Alcfo

kowing

i

way.

the

and

the

An advertisement,

for

example, reminds us of the
product it is promoting; a

\rabia, the tuple sun.

m

road sign indicates
conditions ahead; and a gesture expresses a mood,
the

we

modem world

challenges our sense

ol identity

often adopt signs to define ourselves, for

example

by donning badges or brand-name clothing.
A symbol is clearly linked in function to a sign,
and the two words are often used interchangeably,
but symbol generally has a deeper meaning. A
symbol is something that through its nature or
appearance reflects or represents another thing more
profound than

itself.

A

the flames of the sun.

fire,

for instance,

which

itself

may symbolize

has qualities of

warmth, light, and creative power, and is thus
equated with life force and masculine creative
strength. The creator gods of mythology, who possess
these very qualities, are usually linked to the sun.

On

a small scale, objects

such as the candle or lamp can

be also related to the imager) of the sun A symbolic
-

image

is

thus linked to

many

interpretations.

Paul Dehaux's surreal painting seems to be a hymn to
the goddess within her temple. The moon, night
nine
sea, flowers, and statue-head are all
realm, and the lamp signifies the divine spark
i

[NTRODl

(

%*%«-<

SYMBOLS
Symbols grow in meaning and complexity over
A\(

II

\

I

changing according to their
cultural context. But the subjects that have
preoccupied mankind from the earliest times hawremained relatively constant: fertility, both of the soi
and oi the human race, birth, life, and death.
Like the sun. the symbol ol the moon has also
always been recognized as significant because of

hundreds

qualities

it

ol years,

possesses that relate in

some way

to

deeper truths. The moon controls the tidal waters
and passes through stages from new moon to lull
moon. It is thus symbolic of water, pregnane), and
the cycle of death

and

birth.

Women,

the dark, and things of the night

all

sea creatures,

belong

to the

hrist's sacrifice

sphere

the

ol

fo)

the laithlul

moon. The Temple, by Delvaux,

combines much of

moon

bears fruit of redemption

this lunar imagery,

down on

shining

with the

mysterious goddess
Animals, birds, and trees all have
a

lull

figure.

their individual associations, as
well.

A

tree

may

and growth,

for

the Tree ol Life

represent

life

example, and
is

a S)

mbol

the

world over. In the I6th-centunj
engraving above, Christ is seen
crucified on the Tree ol Life, and
his crucifixion can be viewed as
a s\

mbol

ol sac rifice.

The death

or sac rifice ol a god or king

common theme
ol

is

a

- the shedding

divine blood ensures the

well-being

LO<

Kl

1)

mankind

ol

l\

(

OMB

\l

two reatures used
widespread One form,
represenl opposing for
found almost universally, shows a hud ol pre) doing
[mages

'

ol

<

perhaps the most symbolic ol
the bird represents the sun and

battle wiih a serpent
all

creatures

i

[ere

the heavens while the serpent, whic h w rithes on the

nd mk\

m

the water symbolizes the earth

and

&

Signs

Symbols
-%s%s%sA

In

Henri Pierre Picou

s

Homage

to

Nature summei

i

lie

and

_

»

»

\

«/«»

s

di/-v theii />Ic'iimuc'->

life-giving waters.
fertility

ct(

the feel

<>/

die i^ulili-ss

The two together represent creation

and die precariously balanced forces of nature.

Universal symbols
The theme ol die Goddess, or Earth Mother, permeates
world mythology and dates back thousands of years. Clay
figurines depicting large-

breasted

women

in their

nurturing, procreative role have

been found dating from as early

20,000 he All human Life
sprang from this symbolic
mother figure and depended on
her. The earth itself is regarded
as feminine and nurturing
because it is fertilized by rain,
and life springs from its soil.
Perplexed by the random,
as

.

1

5th-century cherub with \kull

some cultures chose to personify
woman. She is sometimes shown

often cruel, nature of fate,

form of a
blindfolded to symbolize the arbitrary nature of her decisions.
Along with the randomness of life, the inevitability ol
death turns up in common symbolic images. These take
many forms, from paintings showing a cherub juxtaposed
with a human skull, to the more familiar image of sand
ebbing out of an hourglass - all stark reminders ol the fate
fate in the

1

*rtuna, pit*

thewhee!

I

hat

must

befall

us

all.

I

N

However, although certain images are recognized as
symbolic by main societies, the symbolism ol a particular
image may vary From place to place and over time. The
forest, for example, is symbolic of retreat and meditation to
many Indians, a place in which the soul may draw nearer
tc> Brahman, the one true totality However, in the West, the
forest tends to be a sinister place, harboring dangerous
animals and robbers, us shadows representing the dark
places of the unconscious.

C \h
The

l\

MYTHOLOGY AND

ITU

l\l

U.l\

\l

In

[ON

captured our imaginations from ancient
Egyptian times to the present day, although, like the

The Cat

thai

Walked

cat has

to

human)

symbolism has varied enormously. In farming
communities the cat has always been a working animal, used to kill rats and
mice, and there has been little mystique surrounding it: however something in
the cats nature and appearance has given it associations with the night, mystery,

forest, its

.Ailutu Egyptiai

Tiu

and aloofness. Black cats, now considered luck) in main places, were
once associated with witchcraft, and ^ats feature prominently in children's
stories. Both the c heshire cal horn Alice's Adventures m Wonderland and
Kipling's Cat thai Walked h\ Himselj emanate mockery and enigma
In ancient Egypt cats were worshiped and the cull o\ Bastel centered around a cat
goddess Images ol ^ats were revered, and domestic ^ats were mummified at death so
that, like people, they

I

In

III

could enter an

afterlife

SYMBOl ISM ol DR1 SMS

main

parts ol the world

dream images,

interpret

dream symbolism

is

Wise men
the gods, and people act on

treated with respect

often thought to be sent In

tin

West however dreams are nowadays thought to be relativel)
unimportant, and the urgings ol the unconscious mind go largel) ignored In most
he psyc hologist Sigmund reud studied the s\ mbolism ol dreams and found
people
interpretations

I

In the

I

Signs

much

of

it

fulfillment.

to

&

Symbols

be related to wish-

He

believed that dreams

our deepest desires, often
rooted in infancy, and thought many
had sexual or erotic overtones. His
reflected

pupil Carl Jung believed that the

symbolism went deeper than the
purely sexual to include a spiritual

dimension.

Jung was fascinated by the way
which ordinary objects or people

Goya's The Sleep of Reason Produces

Monsters shows how daytime fears
can produce night-time terrors

in

appear in strange, often distressing,
contexts in peoples dreams and sought
to understand why. Many images, he
believed, appear in our dreams as a
direct product of the individual
unconscious, which is a highly
personal

amalgam

of

memories and

In this Indian miniature, men grapple with a giant trapped
emotions buried deep within us. Often we are not conscious of
in a well, representing "the shadow," or base desires we try
these impulses and they can only surface in dreams. A hairbrush,
to bury m the unconscious.
for instance, might tngger memories of ones hair being brushed by
ones mother in childhood, so symbolizing a caring
mother; however another individual might have been

struck with a hairbrush in childhood, triggering very
different associations. In Magritte's painting The Restless
Sleeper, a figure

dreams about

mundane and
are all somehow

a series of

apparently unrelated objects, but they

linked meaningfully in his unconscious.

Universal subconscious
After analyzing the dreams of many

Jung
concluded that certain images appear as symbols
universally and are therefore part of what he called the
collective unconscious, built on the cultural experiences
and memories of our ancestors. Images of being
pursued by a huge monster, of yearning for safety, or of
patients,

dangers lurking in the dark, are very commonly
experienced in dreams in all parts of the world.
Jung termed these universal images "archetypes."
There is the "anima," or female principle, which can
manifest as the goddess, queen, princess, or witch; and
an "animus," or male principle, which could be a god,
king, prince, wizard, or demon character. These figures
symbolize for us our image of male and female and
could represent either an aspect of ourselves, a parent,
or a loved one.

Other archetypes include the shadow, embodiment of
feelings of guilt or fear, particularly about our hidden
and unacknowledged feelings or desires.

Modern symbolism
todays world, symbols retain their power to affect
us, although we are perhaps less aware of their effects
In

The images

in Magritte's Restless

Sleeper seem disconcertingly simple

10

INTRODI
%^%s%^%sm

than in the past.

Some

symbols have remained
constant for centuries,

some

have evolved new meanings,

and

yet others are entirely

new.

One dramatic symbol

have emerged during the
course of the twentieth
century is the mushrooming
cloud of the atomic bomb.
to

This surely

is

the ultimate

image of the great

shadow

V
"a giant leap for

mankind"

ot

destruction that

humankind has
brought upon itself by opening the
Pandoras box of knowledge.
A more positive image is the American
moon landing from 1969. Witnessed by
600 million people throughout the world.
it

film star

is

often literally largei than

life

has become the ultimate symbol of

mans indomitable

spirit

and urge

for conquest.

Today's gods, goddesses, and superheroes
*

Some modern
that

assume semi-godlike status similar to
of the ancient Greek heroes. Creations such as Superman are not
fictitious characters

thought of as real, yet they embody the
classic male archetype o( the powerful
and heroic force for good. In
righting the wrongs of the world,
such figures appeal to an innate

need

in all of us.

Also appealing to this need are
the pop, sports, and film stars

who,

some, have
supplanted the gods
for

Since the death

largely
ol old.

ol "the King

Elvis Presley, for example, his

home, Graceland, has become
a shrine and place ol pilgrimage
for millions ol

devoted

men

followers

Sports heroes, too attraci
a

huge following, espec

among men
identity -

<\\u\

I

he sense
passion -

iall)

ol

group

tru

any football stadium as hordes ol Luis
cheer their heroes on in moments ol shared admiration Similai
instinctual urges can be seen ai rock concerts \\ hen members ol the
audience strike matches, light lighters, and hold up candles to express
nspire

is

evident

at

their devotion to then idols

lit

I

he resultani sea

(lames harks back to the symbolism

aupl

cultures throughoui histoi

I

I

ol flickei h

ol fire in religions

and

~**4

Mythologies

&

Religions
Our
search to explain what

our understanding

many myths and

is

lies

beyond

expressed

religions that

in the

have

evolved over the centuries. This quest has
resulted in the

and faith
religions

that

and

Greece

is

complex web of myth, legend,
our inheritance - from nature

the almost

human gods

of ancient

to today's multiplicity of faiths.

f

&

Mythologies

Religions

Greek

Ancient Deities

second millennium bc, Aegean
around the cult of the
mother goddess, but later the center of
civilization moved to the mainland, where
the Greeks worshiped divinities who fought,
squabbled, and loved, just like humans.
In the

religion revolved

The classical religions of Europe and Egypt no longer exist as belief
systems, but their mythology survives. Like modern-day Hinduism, these
religions were centered around groups of gods who more or less controlled
the lives of humans - and much of human activity involved the worship
and placation of those gods. Many of these ancient gods live on in our
imagination, and their symbolism has been absorbed into our language,
our music, poetry, and art. It is hardly unusual to hear
songwriters pay tribute to Venus, symbol of feminine
beauty, or to Cupids arrow piercing a lovers heart.

Zeus's I

thunderbolt

symbol of
powet

his

Egyptian
Eg\puan gods developed from the merging
of two earlier cultures, one with gods in
human form, and one with animal-shaped

Zeus
Zeus was king of the gods and god of the skies.
His well-known amorous conquests reflect the
Greek conquest of many outlying regions, and
the absorption of their mother goddess cults

gods. Gradually a remarkable religion

evolved that centered around the cult of
the dead.

Apollo
.Apollo, twin brother ol

Ami n-re
The creator god,
Amun, was merged
with Re. the sun god,
to form Amun-Re.
Known as "the hidden
\mun-Re was
the power ol the
invisible wind and

Osiris
Originally a powerful

god, Osiris was
in the Nile
River. His body was
fertility

drowned
ISIS

AND HORLS
mother
queen, and

as the

goddess, a

the sister of Osins. She

shown here suckling

Thoth

dismembered and

Depicted variously as
an ibis-headed man

scattered over the Nile

and

a

her son, Horus. Her

animals sacred to
him), Thoth is lord of

crown

the

is

is

in the

form of

a throne, suggesting
that she

was

the throne of the

pharaohs.

rr

/*

jL'

^

O
£.-3.

lord of

and reckoner of

the years.

He

is

-* *
2
£ £ ^ -^ -» ****

/

r

the

* >

r*

underworld. He

'

depicted

*

* *

m I

* 'A

T

all

of the earth to ripen.

His arrows were the
sun's rays.

Athena

music.

The daughter of Zeus,
Athena was the

He was also
god of shepherds and

goddess of wisdom

and learning, but

things.

Even the other gods
were unable to

also of warfare (hence

her helmet). Often
depicted with an owl,
she was the patron of
Athens - her owl is the

penetrate his
mysterious nature.

emblem

often

of that city.

in a

mummylike

«

is

the soul of

posture.

*

*

*
Eros
Known

9S>

2SS

Sky Goddess, Ni

ensuring the

growth of crops, which
sprang from his flesh.
He was later restored
to life and became a
symbol of resurrection,
as well as the god of the

helper of the dead and
protector of Osiris,
ruler of the underworld.

a personification of

? flF\

moon,

time,

originally

valley,

baboon uhe two

Artemis and son of
Zeus, was the sun god,
and caused the fruits

Anubis
JLl

Originally the jackalheaded god of the

dead. Anubis was
supplanted by Osiris
He was nevertheless
the protector of the

i

Nut was the sky goddess of Egyptian mythology and she is often depicted
touching the earth with her toes and fingers. The arch of her body
represents the arc of heaven. The stars on her body denote the Milky Way,
and she is sometimes surrounded by astrological signs.

dead and was often
carved on rock lombs.
,

14

to the

Romans

DON

Cupid, Eros was a
symbol ol earthly love.
He was the son of
Aphrodite, and carried
a bow and arrows with
which he pierced the

uhe Roman NeptUl
was symbolic ol the
power of the waters. He

hearts of his victims,

carried a trident,

causing them to

of creation,

as

passionately

in

fall

love

POSl

I

Brother ol Zeus and
god ol the sea, Poseidon

protect

i

symbol

and could

hose

at sea.

s

Roman

Celtic

The Romans absorbed elements ol all the
cultures they came into contact with. They
adopted the Greek gods as well as those
of other peoples they conquered, and had
hundreds of different gods, goddesses,
demigods, and spirits - each ol which

Although the pre-Roman
Europe
and the British Isles adopted some of the
gods ol the conquering Remans they had

related to virtually every aspect of

I

their

beliefs in a creatoi
trio

.

life.

They honored and worshiped the gods
order to safeguard themselves - in this
hie and the next

own

mother goddess, and nature
ol mothei 01 fertility godd< s»
sometimes presented together

-

are

in

Mini

r\

\

he warlike Minerva
often wears am
ike her Greek
I

I

counterpart Athena,
she represents the arts
wisdom, and teaming.

M \Ks
The son

ol

|up

Mars was
much-respected god
war He is usually
depicted with
in

a

one hand and

spear
a

The

shield in the other

month

March

ol

ol

ci

Irom his name.

Merc

i ry. Jt im m r. Jl no. Apoi lo
Mercury was the god ol commerce He appeared
late in the pantheon, at a time when trade
flourished He is sometimes equated with the
Greek god Hermes, messenger of the gods Here
he weighs Trojan against creek to decide the
i

the Trojan

Jupiter

i

War With him

are

Greek Zeus); |uno, wife
and goddess of
light, marriage, and
childbirth, and Apollo,
son of Jupiter

the

ol lupiter

Cerm nnos
emunnos is found throughout
Mere he is shown with antl
surrounded by animals In his [eft hand he holds
The horned god
the

Flora

Bacc

Flora was the goddess

l

of spring, the vine,
flowers,

and

grain,

she symbolized
i

estivals in her

fruit,

and

fertilit)

honor

were otten wild events

in
sualh depicted as
beautiful south.
nis was ''

a

(

eltk lands

ram-headed serpent, symbol

ol fertility

a

wine, and his worship
leatured much

drunken

(

Norse
I

revelry

he Nordic people,

who

lived in a harsh

climate, worshiped gods ol the elements

and nature

The birth of Aphroditi /Venus
name Aphrodite means
myth the goddess was said

The
em

ni a

scallop shell.

B) respecting

the gods, they

bom

from the loam, and in Creek
appeared from the
The image captured the imagination

hoped

and honoring
some

to exert

control over the fierceness ol the weather

to have

and painters through the ages English poel Alfred
Tennyson wrote ol Aphrodite beautiful hesh a\phrodite symbolized love and beaut) Hei Roman
equivalent, Venus, is equalh famous Below in
Bottieelli s painting, the god ol the West \\ ind is
gently blowing the beautiful Venus toward the shore,
where a nymph awaits read) to cloak her
ets

I

hen.

Odin,

l

hor,

I

un
Si

i

\LSO

i

Oon

I

ght:

HOI

i

>

binh

»»*»%.»%.%,%

&

Mythologies

Religions

Judaism
Judaism emerged

in

about the 14th century bc and has

evolved into a strongly monotheistic religion based on
a dialogue

between God, or Yahweh, and

people, the Jews.

The

chosen

his

patriarchs of Judaism are the

ancient leaders Abraham, his son

and grandson Jacob, whose

Isaac,

M

11
deeds are recorded in Genesis,
,-

i

i

Jk

book of
Bible. Today

the

first

the

Jews are scattered
throughout the
world, but

inked by

are

all

a culture

centered on Jewish

and

history, law,

family

life.

Jerusai

Star of David
Allied to Jewish

d to light the

mysticism, the star
of David

is

\i

i

|udaism, Islam.

\\o\\ to

and

(

hristianit)

Jerusalem was the

A.

made up

capital ol the ancient

two triangles, the
upward-pointing being
the sun, fire, and
ol

kingdom and

Jewish

site

the second temple,

ol

000 years ago
To Jew- the

buih

masculine energy; the

>

c

downward-pointing
the moon, water, and

ii

to symbolizi

ie

[ewish nation

female energy.

Aspects of pram

r

H Wl KKAH
Tin- 8-armed
is

Pram
menorah

used to celebrate

Hanukkah,

the festival

of light- Candles are
lit

on 8 consecutive

and

-

More
time

supply of sacramci
oil lasting 8 days, when

celebrating a

boy

starts

liberation

from
I

age

ollu

1,1

o

at

thirteen.

r) and
Jewish

slavi

a

s

coming

he

sabbath marks the Israelites

the eternal light in the

temple of Jerusalem
was relit in 164 u

I

BOOK

probably a Bar
Mitzvah gift,

the sabbath

sunset on Frida)

R

In- silvei prayei

book was

lews say

ill

on

which
at

in

home

at

ferveni |ews pray three

rs

nights to mark the
miracle of a da

[udaism both

pari in

the

I

i

BOO!

nation.

SlIOl \K

The shofar horn
Rosh Hashanah,

Mezuzah

Jewish

si{

Boy at prayer

the

New Year, and

I

Ins bo) has the

i

on the Jews

Traditionally the

calls

mezuzah

repent their sins bi
the Day ol Atonement.

is

positioned

by the front door. It
contains a tiny scroll,
>:cma, with words

from the Bible. This
calls on God's people

him totally,
and sums up the heart
to love

of the Jewnsh faith

The shofar

is

to

made

horn as a
reminder of the animal

KlPPAH

God

Male lews wear

Abraham

to sacrifice in

place of Isaac

around his arm and
on his forehead
he
wearingol God's
words" m this way is
I

of

a ram's

gave to

strapped

ritual telillm

\\

l

s|

This

i<\ \\ \|

|

is

Temple

70
itself

and

Jerusalem, destroyed by the
It

is

a

symbol both

ol

ol

Romans

the temple

and is the
pilgrimage and worship

of the Jewish nation,

most hoi) place

a skull-

cap, or kippah, as a sign

|

the onl) wall that survives from the
ol

& TEFILLIN

In

ol respect tor

God The

small leather boxes, or
contain passages
/('lillni

From the rorah and are
also worn while praying.

thought to foster
humility
he boy
also wears a tallit, or
prayei -haw
which
I

I

lias a tassel at ea< h

cornei symbolizing
the lour comers ol
,

the earth.

J I

[•

I^»
rORAH
The

Tor.i:

commandments - God

insti

s

nt the

ol Isra

word
___

^fter

The birth of Jewish

i

ol

God

they are

d thai

(

no one may toueh them They may be
unrolled only bv means of the handles

Dor

/hi

Torah because

w

During the Jewish people's long journey Irom
where they had been slaves, God spoke
heir leader, and made a pact, or

/i>uh

the

is i/i

ToKAIl MANTL1
Torah

covenant, with them His Ten Commandments
to the Jews were written in lire on tablets ol
stone and set out a moral and religious code
duct for his chosen people

-.re

traditionally

often

an

t

embroidered mantle, which both
protects them and reinforo
their aura ol p

Sukkot

Passover
'

The

>mmemorates

:

Passover

the

meah

Jus ol the |ews Irom Egypt, when the
angel ol death
the Israelites
sparing their lives At thi
ler, or
ritual

eaten

in

lamb

da
I

at the

Si

The

meal, all the foods
symbolic of that
journey

KKOl
'

koi

commem

in the

wilderness on

S\l IU VII k

A

dish of saltwater

shed

by

:mg

th-

in

their

Hou

captn

\kk

\/M>

Si/
I

I

1

V*

\|
M/VII
\l\i
flat,

ned

Passovi

k

n

I

\ii
Hill III

th.

;h

un

which the

l

in the

HI

1

1

WISH

|

<VS

••

&

Mythologies

Religions

*-%s%-*s%^s%s%^s**

Christianity
Christianity has

its

roots

m the Jewish faith and

its

belief of the Bible

prophecies of a Messiah (savior). Chnstians believe these prophecies were
fulfilled in the life of Jesus,

who

they believe

teachings, recorded in the gospels of the

love

and compassion, and

New

the

Son of God. His

Testament, stress brotherly

are rich in symbolic meaning. Since

2,000 years ago the Christian church has
all

is

its

binh

many denominations, but

split into

Christians are united in the central belief that Christ

died to redeem the sins of the world and
that his resurrection offers salvation.

Sacred Lamb
The

lamb is a symbol ol
John the Baptist described
him as the lamb of God that
taketh away the-sins ol the
sacrificial

Christ.

world." In this crazier (bishop's
crook) the lamb stands lor the
salvation ol the faithful.

A

Fish
The fish

a

is

symbol of

ROSAM
The rosary
is

both the

repetition of the

prayer "Hail

and

Man

also the string

ol beads used to count
each incantation. It
takes its name from the

rose,

symbol

ol

Man

Christ because in

Greek the

first letters

words Jesus
Son of God,

ol the five

Christ

Jesi

s

This

modern Russian icon shows Christ ble.-manner of the Eastern church. The thumb

m

1

the

forms a circle with the founh finger and the middle
and index fingers are crossed This represents
Chi and Rho, the first two Greek letters of his
name. Icons are seen as embodying spiritual truths

III

\ IRGIN

M

\R1

Christ,

and Roman Catholic churcl
is worshiped in her own
right She intercedes between man and God. and
is often called Mother of God. The cult ol Man is
similar to some mother goddi
In the Eastern

Man,-. Jesus

mother,

out ol the need for

ami

Savior, spell Ichthi

or

fish.

Three fishes
sent the

Trinity: the Father, the

Dovi

Son. and the Holy

John the Baptist saw the
Hoi) Spirit enter |esus
in the form ol a dove

Spirit.

The Cross

T:ias many

forms St. Peter was crucified
upside down. Constantine s combines th<
two letters for Christ in Greek; an anchor
combines the cross with
mbol
Man: and the Russian cross inclui.;
.

I

the inscription

and the

footi

the crucifix

CRl IH\
The image of
Christ on the
(

cross, the crucifix,

an object of
Christian
devotion. It
is

is

the most
rful

symbol of
Christian;'

reminder that
although Jesus
died on the cross
he rose again,
triumphing over

(

I

I

The

IK

ROSS
on a Celtic

(

ring

nbol of Irwh
-

F

Christianity, slant!

death.

in

and

eternity.

C

R<

III

.1

ol a

18

refers
)lace

both to Christian believers
of worship The central part

church, the nave,
flip,

"+>^%s%s%s%.

II

The church
and

symbol

ol the

i-

named

church

alter the Latin

usell

CHR

I

*•

T

1

A\

I

"n

Saints
Christian saints were particular!) devout people who lived -and
often died - for the Christian cause and have since been canonized

hy the church. There are thousands of saints, and main
are depicted in sculpture and paintings

ol

them

carrying attributes related to their life
or manner of death. St. Francis, for
instance, is seen with birds or
animals, and

St.

Catherine

carries a wheel.

sometimes
St. John the

M \ki

Baptist

carries his severed

A

head on

si

a platter.

Mac. dai

i

\i

pn isl
Mary Magdalene

former,

represents the
penitent sinner

\
John the

Baptist

in

coming

He

and
him He was

beheaded

at

it)

ind his whole life
humble beginnings

5u< h

ol his

-

I.

foretold the

of Christ

baptized

simplic

emphasize the spiniujl nature
opposed to matt rial rii hness.

the

disciple.

bom in

was the

Old Testament
prophets and Jesus' tirst
ol

\ii\in

Jesus was

John mt Baptist

COMMl NK)N

A

the wish ol

his last supper with his disciples |esus
broke bread and poured wine, which he
blessed and shared among them, saying that
they were his body and blood By imitating
i

Herod's wife and her
daughter. Salome, and his
head was presented to

them on

St. Ciiristophi r
St. Christopher

a plate

his actions at the

communion

Juki across
- the Juki was

carried a
a river

Chnst.
s

01

bod)

ritually ol the

the world

Christopher
the patron ol travel
itself

service,

hristians partake

c

i

and

bio, >d ol

i

Iiim

is

Bri \d
symbolizes the
ol

hrist

c

communion

it

In

takes

the form ol a wafei

(

Mill

St

ho

KlM's Will

I

\\i\i

The wine drunk

communion
blood

ol

c

is

at

the

shed

hrist,

mankind

fol

I

atherine died for

i

(

hristian beliefs,

flaming wheels -

hence net symbol
the whi

is

\i\
I

IGIOI

1

s

HOOKS
Si

he Bibl

||M
ith

I

Ol h

I

preach the Gospel
10

St

him

Ik

|ohn

\N(

is

01

Assist

the

l

\LSO

i

C

MHI

I

A

lil'

\cosii is
hrist to

Ml \

IK. .IN

Ml.

I

I

Pi

Hole

hold
letter,

the

s

symbolizing
n

i

hi-,

hi-

manner

right

ol

Mark,

man

like |onn,

holds the

<

to the Huils

iospel

then

ileum
%.--%s%s%^-+

19

&

Mythologies

Religions

Hinduism
Hinduism

is

the major religion of India.

It

has evolved over millennia and

complex range of traditions, religious beliefs, philosophy, and
mythology: The roots of Hinduism can be traced to the Aryans, who arrived in
India with a pantheon of male gods in the second millennium BC. The
encompasses

a

indigenous Indus valley peoples already had strong religious beliefs centered on
fertility cults

and

a

Mother Goddess. The Aryans adopted many of

their beliefs,

including the Goddess. All the gods and goddesses of Hinduism,
including Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), Shiva (destroyer)

and the Goddess

are aspects of

Brahman, the one eternal

principle.

The conch,

The chakra, whet

symbolizing

oJc\

and

creation

transience

Brahma
The four heads of Brahma,

Krishna
An

incarnation

ol

Vishnu. Krishna

embodies divine

love.

His adventures are
recorded in the
Purana. Here
naughty child

the creator, symbolize the
four quarters, the four Vedas,

or religious texts, and the four
castes of Hinduism. Brahma has

become

less

important than Vishnu, Shiva, and the Goddess.

at

lu

i-

.1

stealing butter

Tht

man) hand

symbolize the

man)

aspet

q) ih,

deit)

ts

Lotus,

symbol oj
creation

and

purity.

Hanuman
1

lanuman, the mighty

monkey

general of the

epic Ramayana,

represents loyalty,
religious devotion,

Shiva

and courage.

Originally a mountain god, Shiva, meaning
auspicious, is the god of destruction. But, in a world
ol endless rebirths, destruction precedes creation.

He may be worshiped as a linga, or phallic symbol,
as an ascetic, as a teacher, or in his form as dancer
in the great

dance of creation and destruction.

Ganesha
Many

Ganesha overcomes
all obstacles and is
the god of new

signs

represent the

arm.

-

Club,

contained

symbol of

within the god

ventures.

authority

the head of an

elephant, and so
can forge through

DURGA
Vishnu

Durga

Originally connected with the sun, Vishnu is the preserver of the
universe and the embodiment of love, truth, and mercy To his
worshipers he is the supreme being from whom everything emanates.
He rides on Garuda, the fabulous bird, or rests on Ananta, the cosmic
serpent. Vishnu has been incarnated on earth in nine avatars, or
incarnations, some human, some animal. The tenth incarnation, the

Mother
Goddess and wields

horse avatar,

is

yet to

come.

is

oi

the ferocious

the

various weapons in her
ten hands. She stands
for the more active,
destructive aspects of
feminine nature

20

He has

le thickest jungle

myth Shiva
mistakenly

In

beheaded the
god, and only an
elephant's head
could be found
as a replacemeni

.

H

ISM

l\ PI

Objects oi worship
Hindu worship

In

*

ind involving the

>.

form
and

ide in the
ol Ri

d air.

clarified butter. Ritual

i

sprinkling rose water and scent, burning
ir other n
inc<

St

SHAW

\l

I

K

This ivor) sunt
shaker is shaped
like the

Om
This

is

perfumed
symbol ol

a sacred

syllable thought to

lotus,

shaped
\si
Bl R\l R
The incense
Inc

and future

exist

is

a ate

Sensuous nymphs
like this are found on
temple walls. They

shrine in a

symbolic

sacred to
Hindus, and even the

Swastika

as a
symbol of well-being.

specimen
must not be harmed.
Valued for us milk and
its dung, which is used
as fuel, the low

Count ere lock v.

probably represents

swastikas are

Mother

In India the swastika

is

an auspicious mark

worn as jewelry or
marked on objects

lowliest

purification

''/JJtillx.

The

Hindu temple
The central tower
represents
mouniatntop,
because mountains are the
sacred abodes ol the g
The image ol the god is in

architecture ol a

Wheels
is

the

.1

iky-chariol
qj

tnbolic

.

thai this

personify rain clouds
and mists and are
associated with

is

i

around a

Temple

Apsaras

The cow

used to

sprinkle

gods with sweet smells.

Sacred cow

like

a flower,

i

burner is waved
back and forth in the
shrine. Wafting the
aroma around welcomes

The sound, pronounced A-U-M, is thought to
be the one eternal syllable, in which the past.

the sun

god

and growth.

fertility

k

sprinkler.

creation

be the seed" of all
mantras, divine and
powerful words or sounds

present,

KOSE-W \n
M'RINKI ER
The »

headily

the cavelike inner

sanctum, the earthy
or

womb cnamb
ibolism

Earth.

sometimes considered
inauspicious The
symbol, which predates
Hinduism, is associated
with the sun and the
wheel of birth and
rebirth, and is
f

•

an emblem of
Vishnu

Shrine

DrvALi
The fall

The household shrine

Divali, the festival of

is

an important focus

light, is

festival ol

celebrated in

(.

WGES

honor of Lakshmi.
consort of Vishnu and
goddess of abundance
and good fortune It

The

also celebrates the

to visit holy sues,

of fresh flowers, fruit,

return Irom exile of

and cooked food

the hero

Benares, birthp
lliva
[*o she on the banks ol the

of daily pu)a. or
I

worship This is where
the gods are invited.
welcomed, and
worshiped Offerings
are-

placed before an image
and ino
may be burned

of the god,

.

iv.it. ir

.'I

Rama

Himalayas, home
sonified by the goddes!

:

Pilgrims

.111

Vishnu,

lamps were

holiest of the rivers ol India, the

rises in the

when

come

Ganges and
ashes

relit all

over the kingdom

to

llo.it ,iw.i\

to the

(

ol the

*

gods h

ranges

such as

hav
on

its

the best ol deaths for a

current

is

Hindu

Vncieni

II

Sm

M
illy

\\^\>
This

MAM

tain

suJK

I

1

i

1

KJUSHNA

a fol

t •

Smi\

i
\

milL

Ihenu, the

Sw IMIk

n his
>l

later life is 10 live

r

as

indicated by the
horizontal lines on his
ind the
buffal

Brmimv
Ganesh

\/s<>

•

in

1

Him!

•nan

2

1

the

\ IMIV

I

•

>

I

&

Mythologies

Religions

Buddhism
Buddhism

is

based

ox nonviolence, compassion, and

chanty.

Its

goal

is

Enlightenment, which ends the cycle of birth and rebirth and leads to

blowing out, or absorption into the cosmos. Buddhism
developed from the teachings of Gautama Buddha, born Prince Siddhartha
in northeastern India in the mid-6th century bc. He renounced his worldly
Nirvana,

literally,

life

in search of

an existence

free of suffering.

When

Siddhartha achieved this goal, through meditation and
asceticism, he

was

called the

Buddha, or the Enlightened.
Rays

on elephant

Bodhi tree

enlightenment

oj

Wang

n \ and Lao Tzv,
Shu-Ku, 18th century

Three Great Truths
The
Mara and

Footprint

Folding book

The Footprint of the
Buddha is marked
with 108 auspicious

In

signs.

These include

the swastika; the mace,

symbol of the

force

Burma books

that fold up, called parabaiks,

tell

troops dejeated

the story of the

Buddha

with words and pictures From left to right, this parabaik depicts the
Buddha on his way to the Bodhi tree where he attained enlightenment;
the Buddha meditating and worshiped by the gods; the approach of Mara,
the evil spirit, on an elephant, and his defeat; the Buddha radiating
enlightenment and being worshiped by gods and creatures.

great Chinese sages Confucius and Lao Tzu,
founder of Taoism, welcome in their midst the

infant Buddha, symbolically representing the
acceptance of Buddhism in China dunng the 4th
century. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism
are known as the Three Great Truths, and
together have molded
»Chinese thought over
v
thousands of years.

^-^^3k

that breaks lust; fish,
for

freedom from

all

restraint; the flower

vase, for

supreme

intelligence; the conch,
for the voice of the

Buddha; the wheel of
law or life; and the
crown of Brahma, for
Buddha's supremacy

Aspects of Buddha
'

Buddhists do not worship the Buddha
but pay homage to his teachings and
example in front of his effigies. These
portray various postures, or asanas,

with a

number

gestures.

They

of mudras, or
all

hand

The great snake
Muchalinda
protecting
the

S»

•

Buddha

"^

have a particular

significance, appropriate for teaching,

meditation, or blessing.

Reclining Buddha

Laughing Buddha

After a lifetime of teaching, the

Buddha

died and entered Nirvana, never to be
rebom. This is usually symbolized
by the parinirvana asana, in

Wheel of law
With his first sermon,
the Buddha is said to
have set the wheel of
dharma, or law, in
motion. The wheel,

r

which the Buddha

is

reclining

nght

shown
on his

Mi Lo Fo

is

the future

a form of Maitreya,

Buddha The name

means Friendly One who
laughs at fate and whose
obesity contains the wisdom

Dhyana
mudra,

(he

gesture of
meditation

of the universe

side.

Marble reclining Buddha,
Burmese, 19th century

Buddha Muchalinda

therefore, represents

While the Buddha was engaged in
deep meditation there was a violent
storm and torrential rain. The great
serpent Muchalinda raised the Holy
One onto his coils and protected him
from the rain with his many hoods.

the teachings of

Buddha, and the
eight spokes the
Eightfold Path
that leads to

enlightenment.

22

)

Buddhism
l'

%s%-

Shrine
This Buddhist shnne

shows Buddha images
surrounded by candles
and incense, both part
of the act of devotion
in

Buddhism, as

in

other religions The
light

produced

the

is

light of the doctrine

and the smoke from the
incense wafts the truth
of the doctnne toward
the devotees, carrying
Shrine at Blddhist Temple. Wimbledon.

London

their devotions into

the heavens.

.../inml

Terraces symbolize

CMS

stages oj spiritual

enlightenment

development

Shwe Zigon Pagoda. Pagan,

Bi rma.

1

1th

^

in

Chorten

BURMESE PAGODA

A

Pagodas are stupas, which were originally bunal mounds erected over the
remains of important men in India After the Buddha's death his ashes
were divided and placed within stupas, and later his few possessions were
similarly enshnned Stupas act as a symbol of the Buddha's entry into
Nirvana and a reminder to all of the possibility of enlightenment In Burma,
as in China, the stupa is known as a pagoda

this

miniature shnne,
Tibetan silver box
with mystic symbols is

worn

keep

to

spirits at

a tablet

bay

evil
It

holds a

molded from

V

the ashes of a lama

1

BODHISATTVA

Buddhist monks
Buddha established the
The
sangha.
or monastic order,

so that people could devote

t

KOYASAN MONK
This monk from

M

Japan holds the
traditional alms

themselves to his teachings. *fLjfl
The majority of Buddhists
Irfa
\c:lr f.
think that enlightenment Lan
only be attained by following
~~
the monastic, meditative life -

bowl

in

which

people place
food as an act

^^^|

free

to one school of Buddhism,
Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who put off
Nirvana to assist others to enlightenment - the
ultimate act of compassion Avalokiteshvara, the
Bodhisattva of compassion, is shown here with
eleven heads and a thousand arms, so he can
reach out to all conscious beings. Each hand
holds an object that symbolizes an attribute of

According

The

of merit

bowl

from distractions - on the

a

path to complete awareness

is

the

Buddha

thus

Prayer wheel

symbolic

Mantras, or sacred
verses, are inscribed on
prayer wheels I-ach
rotation of the cylinder
stands for one recitation

receptacle for

gathering good

deeds

Thai monk
A Thai monk

probably studying
texts that

V

mantra Some
wheels are
powered by windmills
of the

sits in

the

of a monastic building

iZSnvT

surras,

window
He is

large

Buddhist

young monks have

See also

to master
Hi

DOHA «4

B
;

Till

*

GREAI DlPARIt

Rl

Ml

Confucius

Pnnce Siddhartha. the future Buddha, leaves the
palace (left), having renounced worldly life and
determined on a life of meditation and
asceticism This Burmese boy right
symbolically reenacts the momentous scene
before donning monk's robes and
entenng a monastery as a novice monk

I

TREE

i

w

ootpmni or
1

21, 105;

Brahma 20

I

I

v.N

PRAYER «

ioism

w

t

Mythologies

&

Religions

Islam
Islam

is

the faith of about one-fifth of the worlds population.

It is

based

on the revelations uttered by the Prophet Mohammed who lived in Arabia
(c. ad 570-632). These were later recorded in the volume called the Koran.
Followers of Islam are Muslims. Like Jews and Christians, they worship
one god, whom they call Allah, and they see their faith as an act of
surrender to the will of Allah. Actions of devout Muslims are dictated by
the Five Pillars, which call upon the faithful to declare their faith publicly,
pray
of

five

times a day give alms,

Ramadan, and make

a

fast

&

®

during the month

pilgrimage to Mecca.

Prayer rug
A Muslim usually

performs salat, or prays, on a
prayer rug. This 16th-century Ottoman example
has Islamic pillars woven into the design.

I

Star

.,;

& Crescent

Thought originally to have signified the waxing
moon, and once associated with the goddess
Diana, the crescent was adopted as a symbol of
Islam in the 14th century. The star, a symbol of
sovereignty and divinity, was added later.

ASCE.VT OF PROPHI

Hand of God

Mi IHAMJ

1

I

'

I

Known

I

Muslims at prayer

as the

Hand of Fatima.
after Mohammed's
daughter, this
represents the Five
hilars of Islam.

The Night Journey
In a dream Mohammed was

led to heaven by the
Archangel Gabriel. His face is veiled, according
to Muslim convention, and he rides the hall-

human

steed Al Borak,

symbol of

light

and

truth.

Adult males pray side by side in the mosque.
As they kneel, fa< ing Mecca, they touch their
foreheads to the ground and intone the words
Allah is great." their actions symbolically
mirroring their spiritual submission to God.

The

i

ubelike shrine

around

huh

the sa< red stone,

probabl)

meteorite

./

Ka'bah
The Ka'bah

Mecca

in

is

the

which

central shrine of Islam, to

the faithful

must turn

wherever they are

Thus

it

in pr.r

world.

in the

acts as a point of

communion between God and
man. Muslims are enjoined

make

the pilgrimage henleast

once

to

al

in a lifetime if

they arc able, and

symbolically circle the
shrine seven times,

each circuit signifying
an attribute ol God.

:

24

BAH, Mi

i

I

[SLAM
Ornamental border

Verses from the Koran

(o dccorati

Compass
Since Muslims need to

Mecca when they
pray, they often use a
qiWah, or special
compass, to find the
direction.

lamps indicates the

Many modem

prayer mats have
integral

Mosque lamp
The interior of a
mosque is lit up by
lamps. The light of the

compasses,

with an image of the
Ka'bah at the center.

presence of the divine
within the mosque. It
is wisdom and truth
and lightens the

darkness of ignorance.

Koran
Some

Islamic countries reject the portrayal ol living

thought to challenge the
word itself has
been immortalized in art in the form of Koranic
texts. Exquisite examples of calligraphy have
been produced, one of Islam's greatest

creatures in art because
perfection of Allah.

Calligraphy
Beautifully inscribed

Koranic verses are used
to decorate any number
of objects - a symbolic
and constant reminder

i
Prayer beads
An Islamic rosary is
made up of 99 beads

of the

word

of

God,

in this steel plaque.

as

As

it is

a result, the

lo

prayer from
lop of the

minaret

contributions to an. They are usually in
Arabic, the language of Islam. These texts,
often surrounded by beautiful borders
and scrollwork, illustrate the authority

and truth of the word

of

God.

This is because they
stand for 99 of the
Divine Names The

hundredth, the

.n calls

Muslims

Ceramic

Minaret

Name

The minaret is attached to the
mosque, and from its summit

of the Essence, can

only be found in
Paradise

the muezzin, or crier, calls the
faithful to prayer five times a day.

Muslims believe

dawn

that

one morning

prayer will be called
by the Angel of the Resurrection
the

The

tile

mbol

-i

of divinity

and

supremacy

in Islam
Islamic decoration is
characterized by the

use of ornamented
tiles,

many

ol

them

star-shaped.

Dome
heu

See also
DOMI

01

Koran

mi

R.

i

\r85.

i

Mohammi ii
Paradisi

Prayer

I)<>M! Ol

nil

i

Roc K

The

vhere the Temple
ilcm.

making

the

sil
'

ihru-l foi

to

Solomon on
and Muslims
which Mohammed was hroughl
of

heaven

li

bed
nind

ri

i

it.

one symbolically passes into anothei

si \k ,mi

c

kim ist tr

:

Mythologies

&

Religions

& Nature Spirits

Ancestor

In every part of the world, at one time or another, there has been a belief
that everything in nature possesses a soul or spirit. In
spirits of the trees,

mountains, crops,

rivers,

such

and rocks

a belief, the

are ever present,

honored so that man and nature can exist in harmony. Ancestral
spirits, too, have been central to the faiths of many people,
believing that when someone dies, they join the ancestors and
watch over the community's links with the past. Some spints
have a protective character and serve to guard a community
or individual in times of danger. They may appear on the
prow of a boat or on a weapon, and may be very fierce
looking in order to frighten away evil or an enemy in battle.

and

are

'"iY'*!*."

1

Totem pole

A

The totem pole symbolizes
the relationship between a
tribe or clan and its
ancestors. Human and

Punng

animal ancestoi figures

of

with the clan,

weai

power

an< estors

represent

Kuba

among

the spirits

from one

spiritual

and natural order

ol all

existence the Dreaming, or

Dreamtime.

It covers all time, and
includes stories ol ancestors who

created

human and animal

Australian Aboriginals

with nature, and

and

spirit

life.

one
music

feel al

ritual

expressions of the

art are vital

essences of the Dreamtime.

Bark painting
Paintings of ancestors are filled in
with markings known as nink.

Australian Aborignals believe these
patterns
reated by Dreamtime
i

spirits,

Wmjara

can release

SP1RI

,

\\

\

'
I

i

fertility.

i

20n

Uluru
Named

Avers Rock by European
Uluru is sacred to Australian
.Aboriginals, who imbue such sites with
p& ial powers Ihey perform rites to
ttlers,

ai

quire this powei and also to

w

Ancestor figure

War god

male ancestor
figure from Papua NewGuinea, painted in

This Hawaiian war god,
with his threatening and

sacred colors, stands
for a clan father.

would protect

terrifying

rice,

a

panicular group

in

war

2 6

it.

for

represents ugliness.

Australian Aboriginals call the

ancestor.

life

The sacred

ancestor.

The Dreaming

whom are descended

rituals.

are symbolized
by stylized features.
This elephant spirit
mask from Nigeria

and
all

brought to
the

spirit

During
ceremonies
young boys
symbolically meet this
ol Zaire.

initiation

shaman would
assume the

ol

this,

the spirits ol the

his to

i

Elephant

African masks
represent sacred spirits

such as

mask

divination

rituals a

caned on the pole and
offerings are made to these
sacred figures. This shows
solidarit)

MASK

\SK.\N

represents the essences
ol various beings.

arc

respect fori he ancestors

I

This Alaskan

Zairean mask
Grass-skirted masks,

powers

Ancestor

&

Nature Spirits

Shinto
which means Way of the Kami," is the oldest
religion in Japan. According to Shinto belief the world is
populated by millions of Kami, spirits that inhabit am
Shinto,

^P

.*%

person, place, or object that possesses strange qualities.
may dwell in rivers, rocks, trees, and animals, and a

Spirits

%

nature is regarded with awe and respect. In the sixth
century Shinto blended with Buddhist philosophy to
produce a vast pantheon of gods, including a mixture of

-

nature

spirits,

guardian deities, and Buddha incarnations.

Gateway
The

torn

God

of wealth

d of abundance and thus
Daikoku grants a good

fertility.

harvest

is

the gateway to a Shinto

Some

shrines ma) be
approached through more
than one torn. The ends
of the honzontal bars
reach toward heaven.
shrine.

and bnngs prospenty

Mount
Inari
The white fox is the
messenger and symbol
of Inari, the Japanese

god of crops and

\\ kus
Ama Terasu,

wealth. Otfenngs of
soybean curd, believed

Si

goddess of the sun, is the supreme Shinto god, and Japan's
emperors claim descent from her. Legend says that, angered by the Storm
God, she hid in a cave. The other gods tned to lure her out with jewels
and a mirror, hung on a tree outside. Fascinated by her own reflection, she
emerged toward it. symbolizing the daily emergence of dawn alter night.

to be his favorite food,

are

made

to

him, and

his bib signifies thanks
for prayers

answered

Fuji

The unpredictable nature of volcanoes has
evoked feelings of fear and worship in many
countries. The many volcanoes of Japan figure
in its religion and shrines are often built on
their slopes. Japan's Mount Fup is said to be
the most beautiful mountain in the world It
combines the symbolism of heaven, earth
fire and thus inspires the feelings of awe.
danger, and yet peace elicited by nature.
Mount Fuji embodies the spirit of Japan and
is

a place of pilgrimage.

Confucius
Confucius, who lived in the 6th century BC,
remains a great teacher for the Chinese. He
propounded a doctnne based on loyalty and
duty to parents, clan, and •
state. By stressing loyalty
to clan, he underlined
the importance of the
ancestors and
strengthened ancestral
cults, already popular
in China. Images of
Confucius can be

found

in

many

traditional

hold
shrine-,

especially

among

the

overs
t

f

hitii

ClllMSI l,\NOS<

•ing

the popular

resp

U'l

he innei serenm ol faoist philosoph
expressed in landscape paintings Such

See also

I

(

h

to

him

Monarch
of

tinj

made

'he
to

human

him
temple

I

\
1

\1\-kv

Shim
I

in

POSTV

*-%^m^*-i

17

15

i.i

Dwi wiisc.

i

hta

*
c

II

figures are placed within the

landscape, stressing both the insignifican
man against nature and his place within the
universe Both raoist philosophy and
nfucianism have influenced modem
hinese though) raoism stresses the
spiritual ordei within nature, and
fucianism the nnu.il unlet within society

tl

the

\M>->

paintings portra) not just the features ol ihe
land, but the very essence ol nature Often

rded

Ocean monaju

HINESI

I

I

I

Hav

i.-

&

Mythologies

Religions

is+S%s%s+^^^s%s+s*s^*^s*S^ls^%S*S%^^%S%s^

Mythical Beasts
Many fabulous

creatures originated in the valleys of the Tigris and the

moved both

<&

and west. The phoenix and
the many-headed serpent for example, and the image of a great bird with a
serpent in its talons, are all found in the iconography of many parts of the
world. Mythical beasts that are half animal and half human represent both
animal instincts and human intellect. Monsters that are part bird and part
land or sea creature take on the symbolic associations of both, representing
perhaps the sun and the waters in addition to their own innate symbolism.
Euphrates, and from there

east

Double-headed serpent
The double-headed serpent is a common image in
the Americas and is associated with life-giving
rain. It was part of the ntes of Tlaloc, .Aztec god
of the mountains, rain, and spnngs, to whom
children were sacrificed in times of drought.

The Lion and the
Unicorn, France.

The horn can

c.1500

detei

and count ei a,

i

I

poison

Loch Ness Monster
The

Ky-lin

unicorn

e

(he

a lion, the

Odin, the Teutonic
magician-god of war.
Sleipnir could overcome

stag,

all

obstacles and gallop
across both land and

and

from China generally

minine

has the head of a
dragon, (he mane of

and

moon

body oi a
and the tail ol an

ox It is said to appear
during the reign of

vinuous monarchs and
to herald the birth of

great people
lin

Unicorn

First sighted in the

Middle Ages, the Loch
Ness Monster allegedly
bit a swimmer to death
in AD 565. Over the
years there have been
numerous sightings and

This fabulous beast

represents

Sleipnir
The swiftest of all
stallions was Sleipnir,
eight-legged mount ol

The Ky-

often accompanies

mount of the
god, he was associated
with the power of that
sea.

As

the

god and also
symbolized the wind.

countless investigations,
scientists

have

tried

make

sense of these
eyewitness accounts.
Originally a symbol of
danger, Nessie is now
to

a

benevolent monster.

Chinese sages and

The unicorn is pure and incorruptible. In China it represents gentleness,
good wall, wisdom, and longevity; in Christianity it represents Christ.
According to medieval lore, a unicorn's horn was a powerful antidote to
poison, but the animal was so wild that no hunter could capture it. Only
a virgin could lure a unicorn to her and tame it. Here a unicom looks into

wisdom

the mirror of truth, representing the

immortals.

It is

gentle,

and symbolizes good
will and kindness as
well as

The Aii
Theseus

fertility

of self-knowledge.

visible

heads

Hydra
Centaur
With the torso and
head of a man above
the body of a horse,
centaurs combine the

her

A

creature of

fire,

the salamander

breathing

Mooded

flames

unhai

that

re

it

!

ied

from the

fires

i

instinctual nature of an

with

animal with the

A formidable

judgment and virtue of
a man. In Greek myth

one head were cut off,
two more sprang up
in its place. In Greek
myth it was killed by

Chiron, a respected

us'

is

or surro

he flames. As a symbol
righteous soul, whu

repre

+ -«-

fire

teacher,
i

ii

nerge

of tempta

Linked to the manyheaded naga of India,
the hydra was a nineheaded serpent,
sometimes depicted

was

a centaur.

a cloglike

Centaurs are also a

Hercules.

Christian symbol of
man torn between

the

good and

to truth.

Ii

body.

foe,

if

symbolizes

many problems

that obstruct the path

i<'»s%^**' *^s%'
,

28

Minotaur
This creature, with the upper half of a bull, lived
in the famous labyrinth of Crete. Ever)' year it
devoured seven youths and seven maidens
chosen by lot to try to appease it. The hero
Theseus decided to challenge the beast and end
the reign ol terror. The minotaur represents the
baser instincts ol man

Mythical Beasts
s%s%s%s**

Mermaids and sirens

\|

\k\RA

In India this sea creature

is

the

mount

of the sea

god Varuna and also ol Ganga, goddess ol the
Ganges It is part fish and part crocodile or
elephant, and is symbolic of the waters ol

woman,

often seen in conjunction with

is
creation
solar creatures, the
It

two together representing
fertility. The makara also represents the duality
of good and evil

Nag a
The naga is a manyheaded serpent deity
found widely in the an
and legend of India
and Southeast .Asia It

also

known

monk and

a large,

Although the king
wanted to keep it, he
relented when the
creature pleaded to be

reflects in

the real balance

returned to the waters.
On being released, the
bishop fish made the

rain,

essential for the

sign of the cross.

soil.

The lure of dangerous women

the Sirens,

Ulysses is forewarned that he must beware the sirens of the waters, whose
voices have the power to lure men to their deaths. He orders his crew to
plug their ears with wax, but to tie him firmly to the ship's mast so that he
alone can hear their song
in safety. The artist has

represented two ol the sirens
in human form, but the third
has the tail of a fish.

Carved figurehead
This mermaid graces the
stem of a barge designed
in

Triton jewel
Hall man and hall
was the son
have been
Late

a

fish,

Triton

King

Ifcl^iik.

ol

Hippo imp
mount

ol

Poseidon drawing his chariot across the oceans
It has the bod
and the forelegs ol I
making it symbolic ol both
s and
i

I

heraldry to denote
In the
he i us
in

i

repn

a

laudable

ol Belfast

ii

le

29

II

of

ind

H
the

i

Neptune and may
god ol seafarers

of Tritons

is

7 $2

ol

a race

hippocamp

1

Frederick, son of

myths

speak

the

KINE

as the

body Legend
has it that one of these
creatures was captured
in the Baltic in 1433
and presented to the
King of Poland.

with garuda. the bird

!

Japanese

fishlike

of the sun. This

the

19th-century

the shaven head of a

control the rains and
are in constant conflict

fertility of

half fish. In their fish

mitered bishop, has

wholly animal Nagas

between sun and
which are both

woman,

Bishop fish

serpent heads or as

myth

half bird, or half

form they can be mistaken for mermaids. They represent
temptation and seduction, the luring of man from his true purpose.

This curious creature,

may be depicted with
human torso and

enmity

Mermaids and sirens appear in the mythology of main
countries. A mermaid has the body of a beautiful
woman and the tail of a fish. She is a creature of the
waters, symbolic of fertility and the unconscious.
Sometimes she carries a mirror, which represents truth
and the soul. Male equivalents are rarer, although the
Tritons of Greek myth - embodying wantonness were mermen. Sirens may appear in two forms: hall

mermaid

kt Draper. 1905

(

Mythologies
i

-%•%--».

-*.-%,-K%^V»^^-%^V-%^%

&

Religions

-»».-%.-%.%--%-%..-%..-». ^.-1-1

-*^%^»^»-^-^-%--%--%^%--i

Dragons
Combining

air. fire, and water, the
and dark, the sun and moon, masculine and feminine,
and the unit}' underlying these opposing forces. The dragon possesses the wings of a
bird and the scales of a snake or fish. It breathes fire and often guards a hoard of
treasure in its lair. In the East and in pre-Christian Europe the dragon was seen as
helpful and kind - indeed, the red dragon is the emblem of Wales - but
Christianity which saw the serpent as a symbol of evil, also viewed the dragon as
a creature of ill-omen, representing destructiveness and inner chaos.

characteristics of the four elements, earth,

dragon symbolizes

Basilisk

light

Usually depicted as a

form of serpent, the
can also have

basilisk

the legs and wii
a dragon. In medieval

Viking dragon
Norse myth the
biter," Nidhogg,
devoured corpses and

Europe its breath or
gaze was believed to
be

fatal. It is

In

dread

a

symbol of death.

gnawed

The

he roots of the ash
tree Yggdrasil, the tree

ceaselessly

at

i

five

claw

s

this

garment belong

the

Emperor

ot life.

—

Nidhogg

symbolized

The pt
immortality^

evil.

.

Embroidered
irn to

silk

square

denote rank

Chinese dragon
A symbol

ol the

Emperor, of male
energy, and of fertility,
the Chinese dragon is
a benign animal and
the

fifth

creature of

the Chinese zodiac

It

guards the East and
represents sunrise,
spring,

DRAGON
This stylized

dragon is from
an Anglo-Saxon
shield. In its
it

carries

dragons

mouth

ol the air.

the

and
the spirit. Dragon
dances and dragon

what looks
- perhaps

the pearl of
immortality.

boat races are still
popular in China.

WD

GEORGl

DRAGON

III!

The spiraling

Christians equate the dragon with the
serpent, the tempter of Eve in the
Garden of Eden. The dragon, too, was
evil,

rains

earth, the water,

like a pearl

ST.

and the

Indeed, torrential rain
is known as "dragon
rain." There are four
types ol dragons in
Chinese legend -

cloud
l^7"^•s,|U^

divine

an embodiment ofman's lower

assistance

nature. By slaying the dragon, the
victor overcomes heresy and evil and
also his

George

is

own

primitive drives.

St.

patron saint of England, and
of

soldiers.

all

n\

on batlike

mbol

(lii

q/

tnumph

i

d ovei

(hough to be
evil

proi

The d
the
1

inn.

I

ilinih

I

\^s%s%^*%^\.

-%s%*

r^S%S%S%ShSl

30

u

•

-%]

Mythical

Bi \sts

Phoenix
The phoenix, sometimes known as the tiro bird,
:^elf on fire every one hundred years, dies m
the flames, and then rises again from the ashes.
It is a universal symbol ol immortality, death by
fire, the sun. and resurrection. It is also a symbo"
of gentleness because it lives only on dew, not
harming any living ereature. In China u
represents the empress and, with the dragon.
stands tor inseparable fellowship In Mexico the
phoenix accompanied the great god Quetzalcoatl
and to early Christians it symbolized Christ.

Sphinx
A popular symbol
originating in Egypt anc

The mount of Vishnu,
Garuda is usually
portrayed as part man,
pan eagle, and often

this
is

either

heavenly musician

part ol the celestial

the principal deities

Indian beliel h is an
auspicious symbol,
times found on

he-

a lion

m

and

a

human

head. The Greek sphin

was
that

by

chorus surrounding

and is a bird ol life
The garuda is often
shown doing battle
i

human and

Half

half bird or half horse,

has a golden body. It is
a huge, noble ereature
that represents the sun

with its enemies,
snakes

Babylon, the sphinx
usually has the body o

klWARA

lemale monster
devoured passers-

a

who

lailed to

answer her

riddle

In

SlMURGH

differeni cultures the

sphinx symbolizes the

wisdom, and

ruler,

This fabulous Pei

the

c

reature, a mixture ol

peacoi

temple doorways.

k

lii

griffi

Russian and
mythology With
<

of heaven

Griffin

II

he gi iiim was a
guardian reature
with the head,

the mosl

winged
ol the

hero Belleropl

st

blood

ol

Sat red to

Medusa and earned

/<

ted with speed
I

m

Aih

i

the

and

hippogn

I

i

hundred eagles

Igllaiue,

wisdoi

%^^S%S%S%S%s%S*<^%S*^s%S%^S%S<
51

III

\D 14'

i

/

(\KI IM

I

woman,

and the wings and
the

I

sudden death

i

HYDRA N\c\

i

winds, causing storms
and whirlpools and

md

ph,

evil inl

.uh\

legs ol a vulture

is

I

larpies

Apollo and
griffin

I)

uso

K.I Kl

Dragon

had the head

a

m

desti

ol

light

\K\I

i

I

the female

mgei than

(

m

an ea
.1

Si

ek mythology
the harp) symbolized

and talons ol
he body
lion It was sail

earth.

\nn

I

t

and

ol

Mism

turn
PHOI SIX

I

i

/

+-^'+s%s+s\*%s%s%s%s%s%s%*%s%-^'%s%s%s\s%s%s±s%^s%s%s%s%s%s%.

I

Nature
The

natural world provides a vast and

rich store oj symbols.

and

The sun, moon,

stars are widely seen as symbolic,

affecting every aspect oj

our

lives.

and

Plants

flowers have diverse meanings, from flowers oj
love tojruits ojfertility,

and animals,

too,

have

particular associations linked to their
characteristics

and

cultural importance.

i

& Moon

Sun

The sun and moon have always played a powerful role in image ry. For many
cultures all over the world the sun is the embodiment of male energy, li^ht
and warmth; the moon of female mystery and creation. Both are symbolic
of death and rebirth: the sun because of its daily rising and setting; the
moon because of its monthly waxing and waning between
new moon and full moon. The suns energy warms the land
and ripens crops, while the moon's gravity influences the waters,
controlling the flow of tides.

Man
Clock u
i

this

It

has long been believed that the

full

bnngs on or aggravates the symptoms of madness.
In this painting Diana, the Roman huntress and
goddess of the moon, is seated in the clouds
above a group of lunatic followers. The word
lunatic comes from the Latin luna, meaning
moon, and originally meant moonstruck.''

\\

I

I

moon

-

Ec

1

An

eclipse ol the

IPSE

moon

an eclips<
ed by the bodiless

devouring the moon or
sun. which then passes
through his neck and
back into the sky

they reflect the
dark or sinister force

\

to the

demon Rahu

at a full

moon

of the

was nailed

that

influence overcreai
ol the night When

wolves howl

moon.
myth a man

in the

or the sun is regarded
by many with fear and
seen as a portent of
evil. Hindu myth says

Baying \i mi \kxin
The moon exen

moon

man

to atone for his

i

Moons rm tk madness

is

In popular

the

19th-century clock link
time to the movements
of the heavens.

Her Fou

moon

on as feminine.
people often speak ol

The moons on

I

moon

the

in

Although the

moon.

R

White
purity

cloal

and

Symbol

r>

Personification of sun and mucin

'

ie
-1-

n

-

K

-

1908

oceans are governed by the moon, so, like the moon, water has associations with
d with the feminine creative principle. Water is central to many creation myths
it

flood"

is

a

common

an from which

all life

theme. The sea represents the unconscious and infinity
has emerged and into which u must eventually dissolve

34

In this illustration from a 16th-century
alchemical treatise, the sun and moon are
personified as king and queen The moon
(Diana) wears white, in contrast to the red of
her twin brother, the sun (Apollo). The flames
beneath the sun s feel reflect alchemists' belief
that the sun is the innate fire present in all
mauer Diana's foot rests on the moon, ol
which she is both goddess and symbol

& Moon
%--».•.».«.»«»

Sun

<•-%.

square,

«^«^%. -«.%-%.-<

ass and
emblems

TV

hey within

the triangle

represents the
heart as keepet

Bl

\CK SUN

[his sun adonis an

I8th-centurj house in
Prague known as the
Black Sun. In alchem
the black sun. or

sol

symbol of
Saturn and stands for
niger, is a

the dark, destructive
aspect ol the sun

Freemasonry
This sun-headed

freemason

is

Al'OI LO
Apollo. Greek god ol the sun, is the slaw
darkness. In this mosaic from Corinth his
head, surrounded by flames, symbolizes his
divine nature and the
ultimate power ol the sun.

made up

ol the materials of his

lodge, with symbols
relating to his order.

S< \RAB
The Egyptian sacred
Tablet

is a form ol the
Min ^od Khepn.
depicted here in

beetle

ilu

I

lighting
irld

i.

(

mil

o)

sun

beams, with
to
i

and

the 7 continents

Art deco mo hi

Many countries have
adopied the sun as their

known

^

1

represent

ieas

Flags

national

ndence

J night
as ^\"

o) the

Declaration oj

Torch blazes

winged form, clasping
the solar ball and
representing new life

Fl\goi

I

date

emblem
as the

Sunbursts were popular

japan.

land

Associated

in stained-glass

windows and

ol

has a
plain rod disk, while
Uruguay has a more
decorative sun face
the rising sun,

sieel

decoration

1920s and

with the

also in

sun

ol the

fire is

purifying,

30s, sui

the tiered root ol New
York's Chryslei Building

destructive

revealing

it

is

spintuai

power ana

main

rituals and
world lhe Statue ol
iheriv, with her crown ol sun s rays stands
at the entrance to New York harboi She
holds alofi a burning torch, whk h is a
he flame
symbol ol safety and assurance
was literally a ra) ol hope to the thousands ol
homeless who sailed into the haiboi
s.k rifice,

and pla\s

a part in

religions throughout the
1

I

iLSO

Sej
I

I

IGS

•

M5
FREEMASONI
(

\l

I

M)\R

MOM

Thi-

I

Moon minis «r

ne

with a

sun

S!

i

Si

the year divui
IS

into 18 short
I

spill
I

Si N

he

MASK

\ EMB1

his

1

emblem on

cathedral in

emph.i

Ameri< an spirii mask from
h ( olumbia, tl
the spirit ol the sun It
il to Us tube s be!
nortlf

in the

i

I

Siena

s

SUN

DEITIES

H

Ital)

In this Native

in

\|.

M

ili\

nis
lirits

within the flames ol the
sim It was designed as

mbol

ol p'

Si s

\l

i

Nature

Earth

&

Sky

The relationship of the earth and the sky is vital for the well-being of
humankind, for it is the combination of sun, rain, wind, and soil that
brings life, warmth, and nourishment. The sky is symbolic of
transcendence and the heavenly realms, and gods of the sky are linked to
the masculine power and the creative aspect of the sun. The earth symbolism
complements that of the sky and represents the Great
Mother, receiving fertilizing rain, producing crops, and
nourishing animals. Rivers and lakes represent the
bountiful properties of the earth and share

nurturing qualities.
India, are

Some

rivers,

its

feminine,

such as the Ganges

in

viewed as sacred.

Satellite photograph

Earth from space
Far from demystifying

our view of the
heavens, space
exploration has
heightened our sense

awe at the vastness
and magnificence of
of

our world.

Volcano
Volcanoes, with their
terrifying

powers of

destruction, have

always been sacred
and highly symbolic to
the people who live in
their

Rain forest

shadow. An

eruption

may

be

interpreted as a sign of

River

the fury of the gods

A

In

parts of Southeast Asia
a

human

sacrifice to a

volcano used to be
made in an attempt to
avert such wrath.

river

is

both a symbol of

fertility,

of the neverending flow of time.

soul with the Absolute.

since

Its

it

and an image
merging of the

irrigates land,

delta represents the

Meandenng

slowly to the sea, the river can also
symbolize a journey into death. Journeys to the Underwotld often involve
the crossing of a river, and the four nvers of Paradise are a source of power
and spiritual nourishment.

The lorest is a magical, heroic realm of danger
and enchantment, and it can represent the
unconscious mind. The forest is either the
fearful haunt of spirits, wolves, and goblins, as in
European folklore, or a place of seclusion where
pursue spiritual contemplation, as in
Indian culture In the latter part of the 20th
century the rain forest has come to represent the
vulnerability of our planet, which is rapidly
being destroyed by human encroachment.
ascetics

'.
I

i

18

36

..

Earth

<Sr

Sky

Weather
Every culture has had an explanation

whims

for the

S\OWI

p

mi

i

Si

Pi ren's,

Romf

Sky
Probably because the sun, stars, and moon are
above us in the sky, the sky has always been
associated with creator gods and the forces of
creation.

The domed

mosques

are often painted blue to resemble the

sky. symbolically

roofs of cathedrals

reminding the

and

I

folktales personifications such as the
North Wind and Jack Frost are blamed
for miserable weather, while storms are
traditionally attributed to the storm god
in China and Japan.

\KI

Snow represents
coldness and
hardness in human
nature, but the fragile
beauty of a snowflake
symbolizes truth and
wisdom. The snowflake
is

also a

Wind cherub
This cherub blows
the wind, probably
to guide a boat on its
course across the
ocean. Such cherubs

were a popular way
BalU

ol
q)

representing the

winds

thtindei

in

Western

art.

symbol of

individuality, since

two

of the weather. In

no

are alike.

faithful of

Thunder and lightning

heaven above.

This Japanese god of thunder
takes the form of a strong man
beating his drum. The circle of
balls around his head represent
the reverberations of the thunder

Chinese clouds
Clouds symbolize the
mystical and the sacred.

Drumstick

Japanese Thunder

to

God

The Chinese

beat

traditionally

formed
from the union of female
and male, yin and yang.
believe they are

out the
railing

thunder

Dove of peace

Noah's Ark, Gabriel
Loire, 1975

Rambow,
<

lod's

.

sign of

ovenanl

Noah's ark,^

symbol of the
Christian

Chunh

A London Fog. F.D. Bedford, 1902

Rainbow

Fog
many

cultures the rainbow bridges th(
and heaven It is often seen as a message ol h

Fog, like cloud, is a symbol of the
mystical and mysterious It stands for
the confusion Irom which the soul
must emerge to attain enlightenment

In

from the gods. In the Bible God
as a sign ol

sent a

Hisco

iftei

rainbow

the

I

See also
(Rl

M MOIHIR «"
H.

River

a

FJtf ALL. Zl'

Watebfau
In Ch:
xilism a waterfall represents the
feminine while a mountain or dill is the

ine

Its

downward motion is the
mterpan to the upward-striving
the

any

Vou wi
1)1 SI

A

pi.

figun

the mn;l

i

Rl

ndonment and desolation, the
mplation In the Bible

["he

Hid

"l Isi

57

and

desert also repres

gi
(

bust was tempted

in

children

the

d<

Waterfai

i

Precious Matter
The world's mountains, lakes, and waters are the repositories of hidden
treasures - revealing the unexpected presence of pearls inside craggy
oysters or substances such as metals and minerals that can be mined
and transformed into objects of extraordinary beauty In the past, the
fascination with these materials stemmed from their colors or brilliance,
but durability also played a
or corroding,

and

part.

Gold could

last forever

without tarnishing

and polished, seemed equally impervious
uncertain world, such beauty and permanence

stones, cut

to change. In a fragile,

must have appeared

to

have magical, almost divine, properties.
Natural

Coral

pi \KI

rhis Italian

was believed that the only way to cross
In
rivers safely or to calm a raging tempest was to cam' a piece
of red or white coral. But the alleged powers oi coral went far
beyond this. Coral was thought to staunch the How of blood
from a wound, cure madness, imbue the wearer v> uh \\ isdom,
and offer protection against enchantments. Sprigs freshh
gathered from the sea, such as the one hanging above the
Madonna in this picture, are deemed the most powerful. To this da)
many people give children coral jewelry to protect them from hai m
the 16th century

i

hild's

it

bracelet with
I

was

its

hand clasp
dt signi

.1

to

\ard the

IN

>YSTER SHELL

Peari
Prized in East and West alike, the pearl is a
universal symbol oi beauty and perfection. It

is

linked to the realm ot the feminine - the moon,
chastity, patience, and purity, Chinese dragons
are usually portrayed clasping a pearl,

wisdom, immortality, and
once thought

to

light. Pearls

symbol of
were

be the tears of the gods.

Amber
MOTHER-OF-PEAR]

With

he shells symbolism

I

is

clear

- u

from

its

name

mother oi
the much-prized pearl
and as such represents
fertility and birth lis
is

the

luster .\nd iridescence

make

it

perfeel for

honoring the gods
1

[ere, tiny casts

amber was

thought to be congealed
sunlight; in ancient
tiieeee n was sacred to
the sun god, Apollo.

Norse and Greek
myth amber was
thought to be tears In

Vikings

lor the

have

bright golden

its

sheen,

been placed into the

Svipdag, .uu\

shell of this pearl

Creeks

mussel
images

ol

to

(

it

loi

was

i

In'

tears

shed over the death
Phaeton

reate

oi the

was

it

Freya's tears for

Buddha.

Ivory
\\

hen

contact

in direct

Virgin; n

to
ll

1

496

38

I

or
purit)

symbol
and so is

is

material

a

was
loi

c

a

ol

favored

rue ifbees

also assoi iated

could protect against

Ivory

poisons, illnesses, anil

with moral strength.
An ivory tower
represents detachment
from the world,
possibly through

In the
jet

Nth

became

associated with death
ITS

ol its color,

assot iated with the

storms
century

,

ause

and soul and

safeguard the wearei

CORAI

Be<

with the skin, jet was
believed to become a
part of a person's body

and mourning, and
was worn as a symbol
ol love loi a losi hiend

,u

is

rogani

e

or
piiismts

inlellei lu.il

Preciol

Matter

s

Gold
Regarded as the most precious of metals, gold

is

a

symbol of

all

that has the highest value or is die hardest to attain. The
ultimate prize-winners are gold medalists, perfect times are"

known

S \ lR
Linked to the
1

weight

moon

of

as color.

but also

silver is bright,

vicing
turns
the corruptible side ol

human

which

nature,

Olympic cold
Awarded lor excellence

needs cleansing. In

in a given held, the gold

China

medal

silver

is

the

lunar, feminine yin. in
Christianity
chastity,

it

is

punty.

and eloquence

in

is

gold

light, lire,

radiant

and treasured items as worth their
most cultures gold is linked to the sun, giver
and life. The sun god Apollo, symbol of all that is

as "golden eras,

1

and

In

beautiful, rode a chariot of gold across the skies.
The

EMBI

oj the King's

XIV,

the most highly

sun's

powei

In the

TH! S

i

k

a<

as positive

.ell

symbolism, representing
the sins of idolatry and
gi eed - as in the legend of
King Midas.

lifestyle.

the

\

thousands ol fortune
hunters panned riverbeds
for gold. Gold's power to
corrupt lends it a negative

St N KING
Louis \1Y of France was
known for his extravagant

Nicknamed

i

the American continent as

achievement

and opulent

i

1850s and

"gold fever" spread

K

sought alter pi
symbol ol exceptional

Gold

symbolize the extent
:

Sun King

sun god Ap
he adopted
the golden

alter the

Copper
The power

of copper to
conduct has made it
symbolic oi connection
In alchemy it is in the
sphere ol Venus, and

.inked to warmth
and femininity Among

emblem

of

the sun to

symbolize his power

and

his

imponance

in the world.

North American u
copper denoted status

fft

U

Golden offering

MW-SIZEDJAR

In Thailand worshipers

This Chinese ornamental jar.
made ol beaten gold, is as tall as
a woman The detailed scenes
depicted on lt^. surface took a
team ol goldsmiths more
than a year to complete

\n

Lead's cheapness made
il
for pilgrims

honor Buddha by pressing tmi
leaves of pure gold onto h
image Over the years, th
layers of gold render

Buddha

lorm almost unrecognizable

mmemorating

Crystal

shnne As the hea\
metal, lead

symbolizes purity. clarity, and also the
>all represents the
mind. In Christians a
Jsare widely
world ol the light o
alian
thought to have magical pow
real
aboriginals a rystal is a symbol
spun Crystal ball
of the future, and
wearing a rystal is thought to promote health

symbo

il

well as a
in or a rx

burdened by

sin

<

<

LODI
lis

MOM

magnetic properties

S/l

imbued lodestone with

Iron

quasi-sexual pow<
In ancient
ility .

man

rule with

be

R(K K
and

In the Bib:

igth

the «.\mhol ol
In

the ru

ting

and

from the Greek

r.

unih.
•ted

wife s faithfulness In
plaintone
under hei pillow while
the

ti

ish a

huge

that a

word

is>

*

I

h

Pi Mtl

'

i

In Sanskrit
lor

li

meai
i

ILSO

\|

GOLOH

could ensure his

she slept

S

ms!

(

was believed

and

C

hinese the

J in

word

Si \ kin.

i

Nature
-*ije'i***di-**?*?**?^fc>*^*'*******-%^

Precious Stones
and talismans have played an
important part in ever)' culture and continue to do
Diamond, symbol of
so to this day. From the early Egyptian and South
power and wealth
American civilizations to the oldest cultures in the
East, people have imbued stones with supernatural powers. There are
stones to control the elements, calm the winds, and still rough seas, and
others to work directly on the body, stimulating vital organs or creating
a sense of well-being. There are stones for particular days of the week, and
stones for the different months. Stones that capture and reflect light, such
as moonstones and star sapphires, are deemed to bring good luck. Agates,
Fetishes, amulets,

Bt'FFALO FETISH

with central wTiite rings carved into watchful "guardian eyes," can
neutralize the

power

At one time, Native

Americans used

fetishes to

help control the lorces of nature and to tackle
problems in their even-day lives. The fetish did
not contain any innate power; its spirit force was
given to a by us owner.

of the evil eye.

The meaning of gemstones
The symbolism of stones varies depending on their color, their
form, and the use to which they arc put. For example, cut and
faceted gemstones symbolize the soul set free from ihe base
exterior of the

human

body.

Lapis lazuli
In Mesopotamia

blue stone symbolized
the heavens and so was
used to decorate the
tellings of temples In

:OND
v

CADUCEUS
BROOCH

this

Wings
transcend)

pi

11

was used

adorn statues
M<

r<

v

1113

's

bnnj>

ol the

from

it

was viewed as a cure for
melancholy and level
In China
symbolized
vision, and was used to

wit

han

strife

Amethyst

lake lapis lazuli,

This

sapphire symbolizes
the blue ol the heavens

humility, peace of mind,

and also the heavenly
attributes ol truth,
chastity,

to

gods, while in Europe

Twin snakes of
good and evil _

Sapphire

11

diseases of the eye.

and

contemplation. The
star sapphire is a
powerful good-luck
i

harm

three shafts

Its

ol light are

represent

thought to
hope,

faith,

and destiny.

is

the stone of

and resignation.
was associated with
Bacchus, god ol wine,
and was thought to
piety,
It

cure drunkenness. It
became a symbol of
sobriety, possibly
because water in an

amethyst jug looked
like

wine, but had no

intoxicating effect

i
f

Ruby

Emerald

In India this

of stones

is

and

the king

is

generally associated
zeal,

Topaz

Legend has it that
emeralds are found

royalty, dignity,

Diamond brock

and power. In
rubies were

The most prized

h

as well

I

the nests ol griffins

poor

Revered and powerful
stones, emeralds are
thought to enhance the
memory, sharpen the

to Si

Burma

as the hardest stone, the

thought to confer
invulnerab
especial!;.- if they were

diamond

with incorruptibility

wits, and,

and

under the tongue, help

embedded

transparency and

in the teeth
or flesh so that they

ame

a part of the

allegedly

wounding by

ward
and

1

associated

invincibility. Its

purity

make

it

also a

symbol of constancy
and sincerity. Here,

diamond snakes

pi

swords, or guns
as jewelr

is

Worn
may

entwine a staff of
emeralds in a winged
caduceus, symbol of
medicine as the healing
union of opposites.

his stone was also
widely believed to cure

in

when placed

had to place a
topaz m wine for a
period of three days.
lien, on going to bed,
he had to rub his eyes
I

the moistened

The emerald

sti

has been used as an
antidote for poison
and a treatment of eye
disease, dysentery, and
leprosy.

Due

color, the

ti

me

century
topaz was thought to
heal plague sores.

A Roman

physic ian

claimed man)' successes
is

Ql

to effect a cure.

open sores
with a stone thai had
longed to two popes.

a

ing

symbol of spring, of
fertility, and of ram.

li'

40

I

:>

In the 15th

1

emerald

According

llildegard, the

patient

in predicting the

future.

vision.

l/AU OAU.
\M> EAR™

Aztec turquoise mask
Turquoise was highly valued in Mesoamcru a
and was often used in representations ol gods, or

weapons

to ensure accurac y
lie Aztec s
stone of the gods In ancient Egypl
turquoise was thought to lie protective Ihe stone
is symbolic ol courage, fulfillment, and success.
tied to

(ailed

it

the

I

Precious Stones

Agate

Opal
The opal

is

the national

stone ol Australia, as

symbolized by this
brooch Shakespeare

Wearing one's
birthstone

is

viewed the opal as a
symbol of inconstancy.
although its Christian

thought to be lucky
These are the most

common

birthstones:

associations are fidelity,

January - Gamet
February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine
April - Diamond
May - Emerald

Sjrayer,

and

children"*,

June - Pearl

- Ruby
..List - Peridot
September - Sapphire
October - Opal
November - Topaz
December - Turquoise

July

although

this

belief almost certainly

comes from

the fact

Wu

Jade
In

were carried as

stands for courage,

Mesoamencan

and prosperity.
red for long life and

the

it,

and

their misgivings turned

into popular

myth

ove. Jade

vigor,

Maori lucky charm,
that keeps
fail spirits away

spiritual love.

little

it.

The

Crucifix
Large and small
crosses ensure

mbract

Chnstian symbols
Contains
spices to

safeguard

infection

power* against magic

spell*

Muldihifr lozenge
I'cn to help
spirits at

Cornelian

Moonstone

Red stones were

So named because

thought to be

captures the sheen of
the moon, this stone
is sacred in India and
is Widely believed to
bring good fortune.
Legend has it that a
person who places a

stimulating to the

Pamandei

of coral

bed

who adorn

gods with

to dispel the

against

tern

Indians,

of their

and magic

by her patron saint

(

masks

is

Spanish amquistadores believed it
healed hip and kidney complaints.

hel tiki amulet,

Patron saint
The child is safeguarded

.1

their fiancees jade

magic properties of stones.

a host of

let with

the most precious

similarly valued by

the evil eye. Black agate

working with

is

butterflies to represent their eternal

of salvation

Spng

this

Bridegrooms give

guardian spirits to
counter the effects of

Jewelers began to include pectoral crosses and
rock crystal reliquaries in their range, and it
was not uncommon in Spain and Italy to
festoon children with protective jewelry.
This Spanish child is armed with an allpowerful red spng of coral, a protective

and

China

stone, symbolizing purity,
perfection, andirnmortalit)

that opal breaks very

The nse of Christianity did

fist,

Year dragons

emblems of good luck

easily Jewelers disliked

Religion, superstition,
belief in the

religious

error It is generally
held to be unlucky
(except lor October's

Agate has been thought
to cure insomnia, to
ensure pleasant dreams,
to protect the wearer
from danger, and to
endow a person with
a bold heart. Its
popularity has been
widespread. In Sudan,
agate amulets - black
with a white circle to
look like an eye -

them

circulator)-

system and

was

the cornelian

deemed

particularly

valuable to those timid
in speech or weak of
voice. In the West it is
viewed as a stone of

see into the

it is

fist

the

will

futi

symbolic

It is

moon,
and ol

*

moon

be able to

is full

and health

In the East

in his

mouth when

self-confidence, courage

thought to protect
the wearer from other
people's envj

I

moonstone

it

ol the

tenderness,

ol

lovers

gainst

See also
\/lli

II

RCM Ols|

MVskli

Diamond bkocx

i

BlOODSTONE
I

his stone

was

thought to contain the
blood ol |eSUS Mis'
be magical

li

allegedly cause thunder,
lightning,
i

m

\/l

I

I

I'mi 101

STONI

s

i

a practical level,

and hemorrhaging

mwmum

Mis

and tempests

bloodstone was used
to stem nosebleeds

w^>~/*^rvvy:

1

could

When made

u

jewelry,

symbolic

it

is

Rlin. ion

\Mi MACII

si
1

PERSTTTION,
I

peace and
understanding

r

ol

% •%-%'%^^'*--%^%^%^
4

I

k-^,'%^%-

i

Nature

Gardens
The literature of Europe,
full

the Middle East,

and Asia

is

of the imagery of the garden: the garden represents

Paradise and the abode of the soul. Chinese and

Vietnamese emperors had tombs built in exquisite,
tranquil gardens,

which they

visited

during their

lives

and where they were eventually buried. The biblical
Garden of Eden symbolized the state of perfection from
which Adam and Eve fell, while the walled garden with
a narrow opening was a visual representation of the
wall of purity that surrounded the Virgin Mary.

Walled gardens
medieval walled
garden was a -a mbol
The-

of the

womb

and the

feminine, protective
principle.

It

symbolized

and
The walled
garden had powerful
religiou> symbolism,
privacy, secrecy,

virginit)

representing spiritual

enlightenment
Chinese and Roman
tomb gardens were the
earthly counterparts of
the gardens of heaven
In medieval literature

was an allegory foi
courtly love (as here),
with symbols of lo\
beauty, and other

e

pleasu

15

ry

French mam

s<

rim

Gardens of Spain
I

\rabs living

"i

desert, a garden

the

the

in

was

arthly symbol oi

i

uni Paradise,
des< ribed in the Koran
as a place oi spreading

shade,
"I

with

fountains

gushing watei
he
.ii n was a symbol
I

i

everlasting

life
he
ourtyard,
garden with a lountain
i

fi

'I

'Hi

fold

oi

I

(

in the center spread
with the Moors to
1> n
southern Spain
1

The Garden' of Earthly Df

i

some

;

1510

This

panel from a triptych,
a three-paneled painting,
by the Flemish painter

Hieronymus Bosch depicts the
biblical Garden of Eden. Here,
the first humans. Adam and
lived in harmony with
nature and the animals in a
state of natural innocence until they were banished from
Parad
right

he Fall.
is

nature

a detail
rur.

On

showing

the

i

of the lowliest

examples can be seen
in the grounds ol the
Alhambra at Granada.

Grotto
In

ancient Greece

sacred

rites

conducted

Fountains

were
in grottoes,

and so grottoes were
created in (..reek and

In Babylonian
tradition, four rivers

Roman gardens

watered Paradise, and

artifu

i.il

as

ta\es in

in the Bible, the

reinforce the magical

Fountain of Life is
source of the rivers.

between tin
garden and nature

This symbolism is
d in lormal

the grotto

'ink
In

-pean gardens in
which four paths lead

Renaissance times,

was

reintroduced as an
essential elemeni ol
lassical garden design

to a central fountain

(

42

Gardens
Formal

irdens

through

itOtUS
c>/

the

ordering

I:

I

LOVl KNOTS

needlework designs.
Knots, representing
and binding, are

links

symbols of love and
matrimony. They also
symbolize fate and

ward

off evil

I

Fi.

Versailles have a
SlLXTR BAY

TREE

political significance.

Known

as the Sun
King. Loin- wanted to

show

his supremacy
by conquering and

century, and reflected

contemporary-

nature

The Orangery at Versailles,

s
VERSAI1
The formal grandeur
of Louis XI V's paku c
and gardens at

Kn

Knot gardens are made
up o( interlaced bands
of shrubbery, each
with a central motif.
They were popular in
England in the 16th

oj

Bai tree
The evergreen
bay tree is a symbol of
immortality and victory.
Small bay trees are

irking the natural

landscape so that his
surroundings reflected

own

his

WlSHlNC, Will

The

status.

\

symbol

ol the

feminine, life-giving

cultivated in pots as a

grand scale of Versailles
was a conscious

symbol of honor and

symbol of the power

often been believed to

longevity.

of absolute

principle, the

monarchy

have magical properties
A ^oin tossed into its

depths could make a
wish come true

Ornaments
A garden

an
be seen as a
symbol of
the natural
world, and
<

Is
I

considered

honu
kinds

all

lbbot's

Garden of

1

from the

thesi

Zen garden
Beautiful, bare rock

gardens are i reated in
Zen Buddhist
monasteries in |apan

'.!
!

I

has

irdens

only since the

m

r
The columns thai
Man
enclo
"./(. or court)
B(

it

hoed

m

gnome

ol

elik origin

c

See

microcosm Some have

aj s<>

Hour

a

garden with r*.-li
overhung with
t

I

I

Bonsai

pebbli

he Japanese an

ol

growing minial

and

provii

1

irney

,ii.

womb;

ration, thi

th<

mbol

this

4

5

ol immortalit)

in

(,\kl>l\

islands
I

his illusion

intended

from generatioi
the

ite

EOEl

.'F

miniature the
unpi

symb

mastery ovei natui

nto
red

nid

Kyoti

•

t

I

evil

I

raked sand, the Dr)
andscape garden in
I

alment

humb
*

to represeni the
universe in

i

and

gods
Koine to the

I

ni

ultimate truth, and
h is an aid to

meditation

I

1>\I

kSl'l

I

is

MAZI

I

\iKs\im
I

i

'

Nature

Trees
fu#£

The tree has symbolic

throughout the world.

It

significance in cultures

represents the Great

in her nourishing, sheltering form.

Rooted

Mother

in the earth,

it

draws water from the ground and reaches up to the heavens
Ouve branches:
and eternity, acting as a world axis. It is closely linked to the
symbols of peace
symbolism of the pillar and the mountain. Individual trees,
types of trees, and groups of trees all have particular associations. For
example, evergreen trees symbolize immortality, whereas fruit-bearing

Willow
n the Weste
weeping willow is
associated with death
and mourning, and it
the

is

trees

often depicted in

China
and Japan however, it
is a symbol oi spring,
funerary

are often seen as trees of

life,

and

forests or groves

tend to be magical places

where mysterious or momentous events occur.

In

art.

Palm
As an important food
source the palm was
equated with the tree
oi

life

in the

Near

In ancient Egypt

the fertility of the

and

crops. In

Taoism

the willow, pliable in
strong winds,

represents strength.

was

sacred to the sun god,
Re, and represented

of feminine beauty,
grace. In

East.

it

an

Judaism

it is

emblem

of Judea; in
Christianity of Christ's
entry into Jerusalem

Cherry
Sycamori maim

In

i

cherry

form ol the sky
goddess, Nut Its leaves
provide shade, which
svmbolized peace and

blossom

1

tree, a

Tree of

km mi

-

edge

rest in the afterlife

Symbol of temptation, the tree of knowledge grows in Paradise and bears
the fruit of good and evil. As Adam succumbs to Eve's enticements and
takes a bite of the apple, he defies the will of God, signif) ing both his loss
of innocence and his downfall - Adam falls from grace and "mankind is
doomed. In this Spanish painting. Eve blames the serpent, her tempter
and itself a symbol of evil

China and |apan the

To ancienl gyptians,
this was a celestial

fruit yields a

the

milky

substance, and so was
associated with fertility

and nourishment

is

a national

emblem and

its

symbol ol
spring, femininity, and
is

a

youth. In English lore
a cherry nee planted
near the house brings
luck,

and the

luckiest

lovers are those

who

meet for the first time
under a cherry nee

Laurel
Sacred to Apollo and a

symbol of immortality
and victory, the laurel
was said by Greeks and
Romans to be physically
and spiniually cleansing,
and to repel lightning

Worn

as a wreath,

it

symbolized the poet

and excellence in the
sciences and arts.

The Christmas tree
Widespread

throughout Europe and North
America the Christmas tree is a symbol
of Christ as redeemer ol original sin
he
ornaments on its branches represent the
apples from the tree in the Garden of Eden
The custom of decorating an evergreen
tree goes back to the pre-Christian
period ol taw nights" (December 25 to
January 6), when people would hang
green brain lies m their houses and
light candles to keep evil spirits

17k candles
an- symbolit

1

Beech
Associated with death,
the beech is sacred to
Hades and Cybele, the
mother of Zeus, and
represents prosperity,
divination,

PlNl
As an evergreen the pine
symbolizes immortality.
In Japan it has come to
signify strength of

character and

and

immortality. Because of
its leather)'

leaves

and

bark the beech
durance,
and the Freemason's
i

hammer

made of
beech wood. The
beech

is

tree is the

emblem

of

vital

lue to its

Denmark.

.ithstand

strong winds. In both
East a

the

pinec

and

an
Greek
god Bacchus, and an
emblem of Jup
Venus, and Diana.
ft

attribute oi the

is

at

Yew
The yew

bay

has
poisonous seeds and
needles and so
represents death. It has
become symboln. ol
tree

mourning and
found

is

often

in English

Holly
In Roman

churchyards; however,
as an evergreen it also
symbolizes immortality

and was grown

times holly was

part of the Saturnalia festival

in

Celtic sacred groves. In

the Middle Ages it was
used as an antidote to

celebrated in mid-December
In Christian lore it symbolizes both the crown
thorns, due to its spiked leaves and bloodi

'I

red berries,

enchantment

44

and the joy of Christmas

oj Jesus, the

light o] the

world"

Trees
-%^%^%^%^%^*^%^

Sacred trees
A

reverence For trees, and even tree
worship, is widespread thoughout

Main
life -

a tree that

the central point

and pivot

the world.
ol a tree

of

traditions speak
is

of the world. This tree links

OR

L.IM1

I

IND1 N

Europe the lime, or

In

linden, tree represents

beauty, and

sacred to the ancient

German)
and Scandinavia was
femininity

In

it

believed to repel
lightning and to cure

touched by
someone w ho was sick.
ase

Ac \CTA
With its red and white
(lowers, the acacia was

it

Egyptians, symbolizing

and death Thengods were said to hawbeen born beneath an
birth

The sacred
wood ol the Hebrew
tabernacle was that of
acacia tree.

the "shittah," or acacia
tree. In

Europe

it

symbolizes immortality

heaven and earth since it is
rooted in the underworld,
but its branches reach up to
the heavens, symbolizing
man's striving for perfection

The Scandinavians have
Yggdrasil, Buddhists have

and
Muslims kneel on carpets
embroidered with trees of
life when praying toward
Mecca. Christ is sometimes
shown crucified on the tree
of knowldge in the Garden
the bodhi tree,

of Eden, symbolizing

redemption.

Ml
This

BERR^

I

Mali vol

tree's berries

npen

nt

serpent

attach the roots

in three stages white-

represents youth, red

gorous middle
and black the
npeness ol wisdom, age,
and death This tree
symbolizes the sun

Yggdrasil

years,

and

is

a tree of

life

in

China. In Greek myth it
is a tree of misfortune.

Pi

l

Yggdrasil is the evergreen ash tree that, in its mythological
form, represents the entuc world lis trunk represents th<

M
plur

ie

and from beneath its roots
bubble the rivers - the waters ol wisdom.

central axis ol the universe,

wit
an emblem ol winter
In Japan the tree
l

represents the fleeting
joy and innocence
youth, its beautilul

:hl. 01

'"(in, eru irele

blossom a symbol ol
spring triumphing over
winter, and virtue and
courage triumphing

Buddha's

bod")

Pr.NA

I

R

HANGING

difficulties.

In this 19th-

century example
stylized tree ol
is

a

life

intricately

woven

into the

design.

Muslim

prayei rugs often

Buddha under

a bodhi tree

todhi tree, a type ol

Buddha

ol the

s

fig, is

depict this

powerful symbol

symbolic

Enlightenment,

ol asceni and
salvation The

which he attained while meditating
hes Bodhi trees are
monaster) grounds as
remindei ol this event

faithful kneel

in<

often

grown
a

(

ypu

ss

M\Rll

d with Pluto.
death.
!

|

I

immortality

n in

hina
it h
but
'he feminine
ilm

peace

eel

and

iii

to the

(

the earth
elik

m

god Donai

In

i

in

th since

mam

ii

is.i

In

dreams

signit
a rijx-

ol

(

hrisi s

while

cull

ludaism
the gods

hristians

i

symbol

ol the

it

ii

is

divine

a

4 3

m

symbol

:

irope the oak
ism
stand

rity

old

i

ILSO

Beei

'

ii

wind and

in the

so bi

.md

Si

luno, lupiter,
lima n represents

d

it

and

a tree ol lite

Often associated with the thunder gods, the oak

ol

ne, happiness,

(

on

and

prayers

theii

Oak

ish bridal

immortal,'

In

.

(

d ie Venus and to
the Egyptian godd<
Hathor, myrtle brii
luck to lovers and

mhol

Is

in

t>I Ml R Iki

As the seed ol the
mighty oak. the acorn
videspread symbol
ol

H

i

!>R\

\(

ndina\

lit'

is s.u

red 10
ol ol

life,

I

hoi,

Palm
SVI

i

UMOU

'

ia

and

fertilii

and immonalit)

>....Hk\s|| I*

'.

Nature
*-***^

Plants
Plants echo the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. They were closely

connected with the mother goddesses of many cultures and with

Myths from around the world often

feature a

human

into a plant, or a plant sprouting from the dead

body

fertility

If

or a god changing

of a god.

Wheat and

grew from the body of the Egyptian god Osins. Often the
symbolism of plants is more direct, based on their shape, color, smell, or
herbs, for instance,

habitat.

The

fact that ivy for

A:

many old university
term "ivy-league" now symbolizes a respected

buildings has meant that the

and long-established place of

./
'

example, covers

f
Acanthus

learning.

This thistlelike plant has large, thorny leaves and
takes

its

name from

the

Greek

meaning

akc,

sharp point. The distinctive leaves, caned in
stone or marble, are commonly seen on classical
buildings, particularly
capitals (.shown above).

on Corinthian
Acanthus

leaves signify