Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art

By James Hall; Chris Puleston | Go to book overview

Collectives
Adad. Mesopotamian storm-god of Akkad, known as Hadad in Syria, Phoenicia and Canaan. He is the same as Ishkur, the storm-god of Sumer. His cult dates from the Early Dynastic Period, if not earlier. His power was both beneficial and destructive, bringing lightning and floods but also fertilizing rain. Like many sky- and storm-gods he holds a lightning-fork (see THUNDERBOLT). On Akkadian cylinder seals he stands on a hybrid, dragon-like creature; in the neo-Assyrian period, on a BULL, which is the god's zoomorphic form and also a symbol of his power. He may wear a horned cap (see HORN), which is sometimes surmounted by the Mesopotamian type of solar disk (see SUN). In neo-Assyrian reliefs he may be represented by the sun symbol alone. The Hittite storm-god Teshub, who was Adad under another name, may have, besides the lightning-fork and bull, an AXE or MACE.Ages of Man. Theme known in antiquity and revived at the end of the Middle Ages. The number varies from three to twelve, usually three: childhood, youth and old age; occasionally seven, when they may be linked to the planetary deities. Always implicit is the idea of the transitory nature of youth and beauty and the inevitability of death (cf. VANITAS). Children at play and loving couples represent the first two; the third is an old man with a SKULL, or counting COINS. A fourth sometimes follows the lovers, a soldier in ARMOUR or a man holding COMPASSES, that is, learning his craft. The four ages are sometimes linked to the FOUR SEASONS; twelve to the TWELVE MONTHS. In Titian's allegory of Prudence youth, maturity and old age symbolize past, present and future.Ages of the World. Hindu, Persian and Greek myths all tell how the world evolved through a sequence of ages. They marked the stages in the decline of the human condition from primal innocence to misfortune and woe. Certain similarities suggest a common origin, probably Aryan. In both Hindu and Greek the ages (Hindu, yuga) are called Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron. 1 The Hindu ages are most often numbered four to one (krita, treta, dvapara, kali), after the four-sided dice used by Indian gamblers. Only in Persia is mankind finally delivered, by a righteous god (but see KALKIN). The Greek myth, the only one to produce a significant iconography, is first told by Hesiod (who introduces a Heroic age after Bronze). 2 It was adapted by Ovid, 3 whose version was the principal source used by artists. The subject seems to be unknown in antiquity but became popular from the end of the Middle Ages. From the early 17th cent. the older narrative scenes were replaced by allegorical figures with appropriate attributes, derived from a newly published mythographical dictionary. 4 Three ages were the usual number:
Golden Age: Pastoral landscape; men, women and animals mingle peacefully. Cupid steals a HONEYCOMB. Shells used for cups and platters. 17th cent.— CORNUCOPIA or OLIVE branch, BEEHIVE.
Silver Age : Ploughing and sowing, humble dwellings being built. The figure of Justice, one of the FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES, with sword and scales, surveys the scene. 17th cent. - PLOUGH, sheaf of CORN, a primitive hut.
Iron Age: Soldiers looting, violating women and children, and slaying a LAUREL-crowned female (personifying learning and the arts). 17th cent. — SWORD,

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Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgements *
  • How to Use This Book *
  • About Symbols in Art ix
  • The Dictionary 1
  • 1 - Abstract Signs 1
  • 2 - Animals 8
  • 3 - Artefacts 54
  • 4 - Earth and Sky 98
  • 5 - Human Body and Dress 113
  • 6 - Plants 142
  • Collectives 163
  • Appendix - The Transcription of Chinese 216
  • Notes and References 217
  • Bibliography 222
  • Chronological Tables 225
  • Index 234
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