Retrospection 12

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2 years ago

Symbols, Flags, Heraldry, Creativity and Art.

It has hardly escaped any long time reader of mine that I am fascinated by symbols, and I have a separate label for that in my index. Yet that includes just what's most explicitly is about symbology, since much more than we tend to think of is indeed a matter of symbols. One can go so far as to say that our intellect operates with symbols of reality (as we perceive it).

In Symbols & Their Opposite: Mathematics & Music, I wrote:

Symbols are important. They do not only convey signals whose meaning is understood by those taught of them; some symbols go deeper than that, their understanding being universal, an inherent part of our psyche as a species, of our genetically based mental organisation.

All of us deal with symbols all the time, whether we are aware of it or not. Words are symbols for what they mean, letters are symbols for sounds, and figures are symbols for numbers. We have traffic signs when we drive, and we have icons when using computers. A gesture is a symbol, and so is most art.“

Further, I wrote about pure mathematics being...

[...] an art dealing only with symbols. A purely intellectual art that is so pure that the symbols are disconnected from a real meaning for a totally abstract one. The formal system that evolves by the interaction of these abstract symbols exists in its own right, completely separate from physical reality.“

(This might not be obvious for the average reader being without knowledge of higher mathematics, but it is so for every mathematician.)

That's an extreme point, however, we will not discuss that further here and now. Instead, let's look at some material about explicit symbols.

A number of articles are dedicated to Vexillology & Heraldry, in general flags and coat of arms – or rather to specific symbols occurring on flags and arms, and symbolic meanings of some involved colours or combination of colours. As I write in this article:

A flag is indeed a piece of coloured cloth, but colours and patterns are not put there randomly; they are carefully chosen to convey a certain symbolic meaning.”

Although it was not published first, it is best to start with Vexillology & Heraldry, which is an introduction to the subject. Then follows (in no particular order):

Fleur-de-lis & The Lily of Florence, about two similar symbols that are not related; two lilies, the French and the Florentine.

La Tricolore: What is the Origin of Its Colours and Design?, about the French tricolore, and about tricolor flags in general.

The Star-And-Crescent - A Symbol for Islam?, about a symbol whose genuine meaning is poorly understood.

Nisshōki, Taegeukgi & the Nordic Cross, about the flags of Japan, Korea, and the Nordic countries. One of the latter is the world's oldest flag design still being in use.

Further three articles, whose titles are self-explanatory.

The Eagle as an Heraldic Symbol of Empire

Muslim & Arab Flags and their Symbolism

Flags with Dragons

We have also:

The Crocodile, a Symbol of Egypt?

Snakes in Astrology & Heraldry, which includes a section on the peculiar “Biscione”.

Some further snake/serpent symbols:

From the Sacred Cobras of Egypt to Quezalcoatl: Serpents & Snakes in Mythology


The Eye As A Metaphysical Symbol, from the Eye of Horus to God's all-seeing eye.

Symbols of the Knights Templar & Templars in Fiction: Literature and Film

Greedy Old Men, Dragons & Leaping Through the Dragon's Gate, about the symbolic Dragon's Gate.

The Three Sacred Treasures, about the Imperial Regalia of Japan: the Mirror, the Jewel, and the Sword.

Finally articles about colours as symbols:

When Something is so Red, it is Purple: Purple in Chinese & Japanese Symbology

Pontifex Maximus & The Imperial Purple of Rome, about the imperial purple, a powerful symbol still in use.

And two of my most recent articles (further articles will come in this series):

Colours VI: Green in Focus – Religion, Life, Death, Sex, Witchcraft...

Colours VII: Red in Focus – Blood, Death, Love, Power...

Let's leave the symbols and slip over to the subject of art. You find these articles in my index, under subtitle Art.

In two articles - based on material from my e-book “The Promethean Fire” (2018) - I discuss creativity in general, with examples from various forms of art:

The Cult of the Green Fairy; La Fée Verte

Mindfood & Drugs, Creative Genius & Insanity

Two other articles, where I discuss what art is:

Art as Visual Music & The Importance of Form

Practising Art: The Art of Seeing & Beyond Mere Seeing

Then a few articles about specific art:

Renaissance Artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Surprisingly Modern

The Two Michelangeli – Two of the Greatest Artists of European Art History

The Kreutzer Sonata: How Art Inspires to Art, which Inspires to Art...

Pictures at an Exhibition

Sepia, Grisaille & Verdaille: Monochrome Art... and how about Japan?

As for Japanese art, see Japanology.

Have symbols and art anything in common?

Yes, indeed they do. In Art as Visual Music & The Importance of Form I wrote:

“I am bold enough to claim that symbology is still the most important part of art. Not necessarily quantitatively, but as the part reaching the deepest into our minds. If we develop it to its extreme, we land in a form of mathematics, or at least something analogous to mathematics.”

My series “Retrospection” is primarily created for new readers of mine, as a manual into my production at this platform so far - but it can be read by anyone who wants to explore my articles topic by topic, rather than doing so in chronological order. In addition to that, my retrospections contain new comments and from time to time short personal stories connected to the relevant topic or topics.

Copyright © 2021 Meleonymica/Mictorrani. All Rights Reserved.

(All images of this article are in the Public Domain. For more details,see Fleur-de-lis & The Lily of Florence (the three coats of arms), The Cult of the Green Fairy; La Fée Verte (Vincent van Gogh), Renaissance Artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Surprisingly Modern (the last image).

You find all my writings on Read.Cash, sorted by topic, here.

My 5 most recent articles:

Colours VII: Red in Focus – Blood, Death, Love, Power...

Suggested Reading 9

Colours VI: Green in Focus – Religion, Life, Death, Sex, Witchcraft...

Reversing Cardiovascular Disease - It Can Be Done!

Laws & Principles of Absurdity & Perversity

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2 years ago


Call yourself as encyclopedia. Too much information.

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2 years ago

Symbols has a lot of meanings and some are just self explanatory that is we don't have to give it a meaning because it already has one and some we have give it a meaning for it to be valuable. Symbols has helped alot to promote obedience in the society and also a reminder to also continue to be morally upright. Symbols has done a lot for humans sometimes it feels like it's a God given invention. Nice article sir.

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2 years ago

My own country flag consists of a white crescent moon and a star on a red color. Red symbolizes the blood of the martyrs we gave while saving our country which was occupied after the First World War. The crescent moon is an indication that we are an Islamic country. The first homeland of the Turks is Central Asia, and since then, the star signifies Turkishness. Again, it is well written and expressed with clear explanations.

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2 years ago

"White crescent moon and a star on a red color...", are you from Turkey? But that is not Central Asia. I don't know any flag in Central Asia matching your description.

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2 years ago

Yes, I am from Turkey. Turkey is not in Central Asia. The history of Turkishness is based on Central Asia. Turks living in Turkey today immigrated to these lands from Central Asia in ancient times. The asterisk has been a symbol of Turkishness since they lived in Central Asia.

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2 years ago

Yes, I know about the migration of Turks, but I misunderstood your comment. Now all is clear though.

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2 years ago