Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art

By James Hall; Chris Puleston | Go to book overview

THE DICTIONARY

1. Abstract Signs

A. The first letter of Sanskrit, Greek and Roman alphabets. Vishnu, one of the supreme Hindu gods, said 'I am the beginning, the middle, the end of all creation; of letters I am the A.' 1 The letter A is one of a series of usually five mystical characters (Sk. siddham) uttered as syllables by Vajrayana Buddhists, especially the Shingon sect of Japan, in their devotions. Its magical power will conjure up the deity. Each letter denotes one of the five Dhyani-Buddhas, 'A', denoting the supreme Adi‐ Buddha, VAIROCANA [i]. The written character, on a lotus throne, is also an object of contemplation. On Roman funerary monuments the letter A indicates that the deceased was an only child. See also WORD; BUDDHA.

A and ω (or Ω). The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet are a Christian symbol of God as the beginning and end of all things. It is found in early funerary inscriptions in the Roman catacombs and occasionally in Renaissance and later painting, where the letters may be inscribed on the facing pages of an open book held by God the Father, 2 particularly in representations of the TRINITY [ii].

Ankh. Egyptian hieroglyph for life, possibly originally a representation of a sandal strap [iii]. As a symbol it denotes eternal life and when held to the nose of a dead pharaoh ensures his everlasting existence. It is held by many deities, in particular Atum, the sun-god of Heliopolis, and (when seated) Sekhmet, the lion-headed war-goddess of Memphis. A was SCEPTRE combining the djed column and ankh is the attribute of PTAH. On the walls of temples it gives divine protection to the deceased. The Coptic Church adopted it as a form of the cross, called ansate (having a handle).

Circle (the pure form; see also RING for the annular form). Like the sphere, a symbol of the cosmos, the heavens, and the supreme deity, in East and West. Renaissance humanists likened it to God from its perfect shape. It formed the ground-plan of churches, especially from the 16th cent. [iv: dome, St Peter's, Rome]. Choirs of angels, representing heaven, may have a circular or hemispherical configuration. As a Taoist and Buddhist symbol, heaven and earth may be represented respectively by a circle enclosed in a square. Taoism also taught that the circle, divided into two in a certain way, symbolized the creative principle of the universe, the two parts being its female and male elements (see YIN AND YANG). Having no end or beginning a circle may denote eternity, sometimes depicted in the West as a

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
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
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 244

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.