Common Symbolism

The flashcards below were created by user brittanyrluv on FreezingBlue Flashcards.

  1. Apple/Fruit
    From the Latin malum meaning both apple and sin, the image is used to reference man's disobedience
  2. Light Penetrating Glass
    The Virgin Birth. As light penetrates glass without breaking it, so can Mary bear the God's son as a virgin.
  3. Book
    Most generically the scriptures, though often more specifically meaning the prophecy of the scriptures.
  4. Lilly
    A common sign of purity. In the Annunciation Mary is shown near or being handed a Lilly.
  5. Broom
    Hanging on the wall, or leaned in the corner refers to the domestic arts of cooking, sewing, tending to the home.
  6. Lorraine vs. Latin Cross
    The Titulus added above the cross of Christ transformed the traditional Latin cross into a dual horizontal cross.
  7. Candle
    A single candle is the "eye of God." Used to show God's presence or witnessing of a blessed event.
  8. Olive Branch
    Peace. To hold out, or extend the branch is an offer of peace. Christ was the "Prince of Peace."
  9. Chalice
    A goblet used for the consecrated wine of the Eucharist. Often shown filled/being filled with blood of Christ.
  10. Orb/Globe
    The world. Holding the globe was a sign of having dominion or control over the world.
  11. Dead Tree
    The "Fall of Man" also called the original sin. Poetically, the tree Adam ate of shown dead as a result of sin.
  12. Palm Branch
    The sign of a martyr. The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem Jesus was met with crowds waving palm branches.
  13. Dice/Cards
    Any tool of gambling is a reference to vice. A figure shown holding such things attributes the action to the holder itself.
  14. Resurrection Banner
    A white flag, shield, or banner with a red cross placed on it refers to the resurrection.
  15. Dog (generic)
    Man's best friend, a sign of fidelity and faithfulness. Obvious connection to Fido and it's Latin derivative.
  16. Ruins
    The decline of the world shown in art as a physical decay. Understood as a metaphor for spiritual decline of the world.
  17. Dog (hound)
    Specifically, hound dogs were a sign of Hell (the Hound of Hell), perversion or more exact - inversion.
  18. Shoes Removed
    Derived from Moses' approach of the burning bush, shoes removed referenced the holiness of an event.
  19. Dove
    The Holy Spirit (neuma) - the third part of the Trinity. A descending dove is the descent of the spirit.
  20. Skull
    A reminder of death (memento mori). The crucifixion was at Golgotha - "the place of the skull."
  21. Garden
    Feminine principle or fertility. An enclosed garden (fortified) expands the metaphor to show chastity or virginity.
  22. Spears/Swords/Clubs/Axes
    Any element of torture are associated with the Passion and crucifixion of Christ. Often seen held or hanging at the cross.
  23. Jingle Bells
    Folly and foolishness. As tools of frivolousness they are derogatory when associated with serious personalities.
  24. Tablets
    The ten commandments of the Old Testament are the foundation of Western Morality. A common attribute of Moses.
  25. Knot
    Unity. "To tie the knot" is to form a unity in marriage. Also as a spiritual uniting of the faithful.
  26. Tallith
    A fringed prayer shawl with bands of blue or black by Jewish men at prayer or other solemn occasions.
  27. Lamb
    The lamb was the sacrificial animal of the Old Testament. Jesus becomes the "Lamb of God." (Agnus Dei)
  28. Titulus
    The Title placed above the head of Christ by Pilate reading "Jesus Christ King of the Jews." Abbreviated I.N.R.I.
  29. Left vs. Right
    A convention of opposites. Often associated with the two sides of Christ, it can be the good vs. bad, or New vs. Old.
  30. Tree Trunk
    A prominently displayed trunk (interior scenes a column) refers to the Passion and suffering of Christ.
  31. Adam and Eve
    First creation of God's humanity. They commit the original sin and all mankind inherit this sin.
  32. Joseph
    The husband of Mary, not to be confused with the father of Jesus. A perplexing figure shown in a multitude of ways.
  33. Dismas & Gestas
    The names given to the two criminals executed with Jesus. Dismas repents, Gestas does not.
  34. Joseph of Arimathaea
    A rich Jew who believed, but was a afraid to confess it. With Nicodemus he removes the body at the descent.
  35. Gabriel (Angel)
    The Archangel who appears to Mary in the Annunciation to reveal she will have the son of God.
  36. Longinus
    The traditional name given to the one who stabbed Jesus in the side at the Crucifixion.
  37. Jesus
    In incarnation of God. Through the suffering and sacrifice mankind reclaims the salvation lost through original sin.
  38. Nicodemus
    A Pharisee who came to Jesus by night and rebuked by the others for suggesting they "hear before judging him."
  39. Jewish Leadership
    Pharisee et al who emblematize the hypocrisy of the faith leading to the conflict with Jesus.
  40. Pilate, Pontius
    The Roman governor of Judaea at the time of the Jesus. Failing to persuade the mob otherwise, he orders Jesus executed.
  41. John the Evangelist
    The youngest of the twelve Apostles revered for his innocent and devout sincerity.
  42. Mary Magdalene
    The prostitute turned faithful follower of Jesus. She become emblematic of redemption of all.
  43. John the Baptist
    He who "prepared the way" for the coming Kingdom and associated with the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
  44. Mary the Virgin
    The Mother of Jesus, who through the divine act of the spirit becomes pregnant with the incarnation of God.
  45. Bow and Arrow
    Tools associated with either Cupid or Diana. Cupid uses it to cause the "mischief" of love, and Diana for the hunt. For her it is a key item of vigilance, in the same manner that "sleeping" is lack thereof.
  46. Moon
    Round, soft and luminescence  often used as a symbol for woman. Equally relevant is the moon's phases which are like those of woman. The crescent moon is associated with Diana and will be placed on her head not unlike a broach placed in the hair.
  47. Cave/grotto 
    Often used as a feminine image with phallic implications. Adding water to the grotto (as Ovid was so want to do!) was a particular "over the top" image without too much subtlety.
  48. Myrtle wreath
    A fertility image. Held, or placed on or about a figure is associating fertility with them. Most often see with Venus for obvious reasons
  49. Dove 
    In secular art it is the feminine spirit. Due to the dual usage in religious art and its reference to the Holy Spirit, the artist may be making a subtle play between the image and it's dual implications.
  50. Red/pink roses 
    A basic image for love and passion. Though the Virgin Mary is seen as the "Rose without thorns," Venus is most often the figure associated with the image.
  51. Golden Apple 
    Derived as a reward from the famous beauty contest, it is an attribute associated with Venus who often is shown holding it, though she is also noted for finding other uses for it.
  52. Shell 
    Again like the myrtle this is a fertility symbol. Venus will stand on one, or have another placed around her. But, any young female form is a likely candidate for the image to appear.
  53. Honeycomb 
    An image of extreme sensuousness, though with a covert sting. When offered it is a metaphor for the sweetness of love, but a reminder of its potential sting.
  54. Sword/Sheath 
    The sword is a traditional male phallic, whereas the sheath the corresponding female phallic. In other cases it may only be used as a tool of war and violence.
  55. Hourglass 
    The passing of time most obviously shown with an old man holding it in hand. A youthful figure pondering the hourglass shows the transience of life ("Like sands though an hourglass…")
  56. Urinating child
    Believe it or not - an image used to convey good fortune. If the child does this in/through/around another image it could be referring to good fortune in regard to what that object itself represents.
  57. Laurel leaf/crown 
    A sign of victory and triumph (See Apollo and Daphne). Since traditional assumption was that "truth prevails," it can also be seen as a reference to truth's eventual victory.
  58. Water 
    The most basic of the fertility symbols, water nymphs being the most frequent manifestation. The womb of birth is a vessel of water so to be submerged into it s a manner of rebirth or regeneration.
Card Set:
Common Symbolism
2013-04-11 21:49:23
Humanities Hunter Mark Test

Common Symbolism
Show Answers: