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Emblems v. symbols::Emblem

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Emblems v. symbols Although the words emblem and symbol are often used interchangeably, an emblem is a pattern that is used to represent an idea or an individual. An emblem crystallizes in concrete, visual terms some abstraction: a deity, a tribe or nation, or a virtue or vice.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Clarify |date=__DATE__ |$B= }}

"The big eat the small", a political emblem from an emblem book, 1617

An emblem may be worn or otherwise used as an identifying badge or patch. For example, in America, police officers' badges refer to their personal metal emblem whereas their woven emblems on uniforms identify members of a particular unit. A real or metal cockle shell, the emblem of St. James the Apostle, sewn onto the hat or clothes, identified a medieval pilgrim to his shrine at Santiago de Compostela. In the Middle Ages, many saints were given emblems, which served to identify them in paintings and other images: St. Catherine had a wheel, or a sword, St. Anthony Abbot, a pig and a small bell. These are also called attributes, especially when shown carried by or close to the saint in art. Kings and other grand persons increasingly adopted personal devices or emblems that were distinct from their family heraldry. The most famous include Louis XIV of France's sun, the salamander of Francis I of France, the boar of Richard III of England and the armillary sphere of Manuel I of Portugal. In the fifteenth and sixteenth century, there was a fashion, started in Italy, for making large medals with a portrait head on the obverse and the emblem on the reverse; these would be given to friends and as diplomatic gifts. Pisanello produced many of the earliest and finest of these.

A symbol, on the other hand, substitutes one thing for another, in a more concrete fashion:<ref name="OED"/>

|CitationClass=web }} History of the emblems of the International Red Cross: An account of this organisation's need to adopt an emblem to represent itself, and the factors which led to it eventually adopting a second (the red crescent) and third (the red crystal).</ref> A red cross on a white background is the emblem of humanitarian spirit.

|CitationClass=web }} macmillandictionary.com entry for "skull and crossbones"</ref> The skull is an emblem of the transitory human life.


Emblem sections
Intro  Emblems v. symbols  Other terminology   Emblems in history    See also   References  Notes  External Links  

Emblems v. symbols
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