Cultures all over the globe are filled with meaningful symbols that most of the time attract our curiosity. Find out about the powerful symbols and meanings of Celtic, Viking and Japanese culture, which you have seen but don’t know what they stand for.
Celtic mythology is a realm marked by mysterious and strange looking signs. Here are some of the Celtic symbols and meanings that you might find interesting.
The word is a Greek term, which means “three-legged. ” If you look closely at the sign, it does look like three legs running. The meaning of this Celtic symbol stands for competition and the progress of man.
The word comes from Latin and means “three-cornered” and represents a holy symbol with many meanings. It is a symbol composed of three interlocked Pisces, stressing on the intersection of three circles. Most often, it’s used as a symbol for the Holy Trinity and used by the Celtic Christian Church. Sometimes, it can be found as three interlaced fish.
The triple spiral is a symbol found in many Celtic tombs and drawn as one continuous line, implying rebirth or resurrection. The theory of its meaning comes from the fact that many of these drawings were in places where they catch the first sun rays on the solstice. They appear to have been placed there intentionally.
Celtic Tree of Life
The Tree was an important part of the early Celtic spirituality. For the Celts, the tree was a source of living, a bearer of food, a shelter and fuel provider for cooking and warmth. Without the existence of trees, living would have been almost impossible.
Celtic stories say that trees were the ancestors of mankind, beings of wisdom who created the alphabet, the calendar and the entrance to the land of the Gods.
Many consider it a good luck charm, but the shamrock has a much deeper meaning. The Druids believed that it represented a three in one concept of the three dominions on the planet, sky and sea and the ages of humans and the stages of the moon. In the Celtic folklore, the Shamrock stands as a symbol against evil. It is a belief that has been carried till the present day, as the four-leafed clover is used as a good luck charm.
A Celtic cross represents a cross with a ring that surrounds the intersection. The symbol is associated with the Celtic Christianity, even though it has much older origins. Crosses like such are part of large Celtic art. A Celtic cross, standing, made out of stone and usually with lots of ornaments, is called a high cross or an Irish Cross. In Ireland, a popular myth was that the Celtic cross was brought by Saint Patrick or Saint Declan while he was converting the pagan Irish people.
The Green Man
The Green Man is believed to be an ancient Celtic symbol. In Celtic mythology, he is the God of Spring and Summer. He is believed to disappear and come back every year, century after century, enacting death and resurrection and the circle of life. The legend of Sir Gawain, The Green Knight, is an obvious image of the Green Man from the Middle Ages. Gawain is wearing a green helmet, green armor and a green shield but also a green horse. After he was beheaded, he continued to live.
Symbols and Meanings belonging to Vikings
Vikings have had a lot of symbols with plenty of sacred or mystical meanings. Many of them have very interesting looks.
The Triple Horn of Odin
This Viking symbol is made out of three interlocked drinking horns and usually worn or displayed as a proof of commitment to the modern faith Asatru.
Yggdrasil, the Norse World Ash, is the giant mythic tree that holds together the Nine Worlds or lands of existence. The World-ash stands for the Nine Worlds and protected by the Jormungadr serpent. Yggdrasil is one of the plenty variations of the Universal World Tree, known to all the human cultures.
The Julbock, also known as the Yule-goat, is a universal symbol of the winter holidays in the Scandinavian countries. Going back to the pre-Christian times, the Julbock is yet another Pagan Yule symbol taken by the Christian holiday customs. In the pagan Norse religion, a goat represented the conveyance of the gods-early representations of Odin in a goat-drawn cart. That is strangely similar to further portrayals of Santa Claus.
The troll cross is some sort of amulet consisting of a circle of iron crossed at the base. The charm has been worn by early Scandinavian people to protect themselves against trolls and elves. Iron and crosses were believed to be a combination that casts away evil spirits.
The symbol is known as the Valknut, meaning “a knot of slain.” It has been found in stone funerary carvings, which most probably were meant to represent the afterlife. The signs are often found in the art portraying god Odin, and it may represent his power over death.
The Helm of Awe
The Helm of Awe is a protection against spells used by early Vikings. Some legends say that when worn between the eyes, the protective symbol was meant to offer invincibility to the one who wore it or make the enemy fearful.
Thor’s Hammer stands for an ancient Norse symbol and represents the legendary magical weapon of Thor. Also known as Mjolnr, which means “lightning”, it symbolized Thor’s power over Lightning and Thunder. The Hammer or Thor was said always to come back after it has been thrown.
A Thor Hammer amulet has been often worn by believers who thought that it would protect them. That practice continued even after the Norse population had converted to Christianity. Modern times use it as a sign of recognition of members belonging to the Asatru faith, and is symbolic of Norse heritage.
Japanese symbols and meanings
Japan is another country with many powerful symbols related to its national culture and magical beliefs.
Japanese symbols of dragons are very similar to Chinese dragons, with the exception that the Japanese dragon has only three claws or toes, while the Chinese dragon has five. The common dragon has four claws. There are two types of Japanese dragons: one lives in the sky or clouds and the other is found in water or rain. It is believed that dragons are controlling rain, fire and Earth. Most known Japanese words for dragons are ryu and tatsu.
Japanese culture sees butterflies as the souls of the living and the dead and considered to symbolize happiness and longevity.
The carp(koi) represents perseverance and is also a symbol of faithfulness in marriage and good luck. It is often shown in motion, arched upwards with water sprays. This suggests the virtues of a great warrior and is usually associated with the qualities desired in young men.
Starting from the Heian Period, cherry blossoms have been revered by Japanese culture. The brief blooming of the flowers and the fragility of its blossoms has been associated with the transience of life.
In the Japanese symbolism, dragons flies are an emblem of martial success, as several names for the insects are homonyms with words that mean victory. Dragonflies are also a symbol for late summers and early autumns.
Turtles are a complex motif of Japanese culture. Taoism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism are all beliefs that promote understanding and are all claiming that the turtle helps prop up the world. They also believe that it is a guardian of the northern quadrant of the Universe, together with the snake, and carries its sacred carapace inscriptions. Further reading about Japanese symbolic animals is available at the Japanese Shop.
Many symbols of Japan have been assimilated from China, and Chinese symbols and meanings are widely present in the Japanese culture. Chrysanthemums were believed to have healing powers for excessive drinking, nervousness and debilitating diseases. Chinese culture associates the flower with integrity and endurance.
Final Thoughts About Powerful Symbols
The article covered the most important symbols in the Celtic, Viking and Japanse cultures. Our intention with the article was to keep each symbol concise but also provide as much detail as possible. We hope that the powerful symbols enlightened you about the different cultures.
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When it comes to poetry and choosing the most famous poems in the history of literature, we might face the impossible task of bringing to an agreement thousands of critics and literature historians, together with millions of pages dedicated to the subject. However, listing the most famous poems as deemed by some of the most enlightened minds of the Society of Classical Poets after comparing them to the popularity rankings offered by the public, is not such a difficult endeavor. After a careful selection, thus, we were able to highlight five most famous poems in history. Keep in mind that we won’t categorize them into “short poems”, “love poems” or “English poems about life” sub-classes, but offer you a more general view on those poems we all should read, feel and live by.
Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
A love poem at a first glance, Sonnet 18 is, in fact, a testament of the author’s views on life, death, decay and passing of the human spirit. The ethereal realm of poetry and beauty has never been so subtly, yet eloquently, analyzed as it has been in this true masterpiece. A firm believer that poetry itself can grant eternal life to a person because poetry itself is eternal, Shakespeare seems to have encompassed in this short poem the quintessence of love, splendor, and artistic expression.
2. If by Rudyard Kipling
While we mostly know Kipling for The Jungle Book, the writer was a master of poetry and If proves this beyond a doubt. One of the most powerful statements of what means to be a good, strong and beautiful human, If is a poem we all should live by and take to our hearts in our attempt of becoming better people. The poem’s message keeps its validity throughout all generations, being a beacon of light, hope and powerful teachings for all mankind.
3. A Dream Within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
All Edgar Allan Poe poems and stories have double and triple meanings. They are masterpieces of layered imagery, messages, feelings, spirituality, and beauty. A Dream Within a Dream, among others, is perhaps the best example that the author was a genius of mixing the pure beauty of poetry with an intrinsic and sometimes baffling psychological and philosophical web of concepts and meanings.
4. On His Blindness by John Milton
Short, but extremely powerful to this day, On His Blindness deals with one’s limitations in life, being inspired by Milton’s personal story of losing his eyesight. What makes this poem, however, a wonder of literature is the underlying message that one can transcend personal shortcomings and misery through understanding the powers of the divine and embracing the order and mystery of the universe. While emphasizing on a disability, Milton’s poem is in fact about the human spirit finding purpose and hope despite all obstacles.
5. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas
If you remember the famous Dangerous Minds movie and the “Dylan – Dylan” competition, one might find interesting the fact that Bob Dylan was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. However, poetry experts and critics still believe that Dylan Thomas is probably one of the greatest poets that have ever lived and written, in all the world, in all the languages. As subjective as this opinion may be, one cannot deny that Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is still one of the best, most haunting, most powerful and most meaningful of poems ever written. An elegy to his dying father, the poem stood the test of time and the numerous changes in cultural perspectives and tastes, being still considered a work of art. Using unusual words, like “spindrift” and creating complex emotions with the use of just words, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night still gives you shivers down your spine no matter your age or past life experiences.
What are your favorite most famous poems on this list or in the history of literature? Do you have others that speak to your heart?
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Heists aren’t what they used to be. These days, the Mona Lisa is safely tucked behind a bulletproof glass shield, there are alarms and guards at every corner, and attempting a good old fashion art piece theft has never been more difficult. But, believe it or not, these are all the result of past heists that have been, unfortunately, successful. There are some famous stolen paintings taken from important art galleries, with no clue of their whereabouts decades later.
Criminality knows no discrimination, which is why the big blow was taken both by small artists and renowned painters of the likes of Rembrandt and Picasso. Join us as we line-up some of the most famous stolen paintings that have yet to be found.
#1 “The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV” by Vincent Van Gogh
This work of art was described by the painter in a letter to his brother. Finished in 1888, it was easy to pinpoint Van Gogh’s pride in his creation and, apparently, he had good reason to. The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV caught the eye of Adolf Hitler decades later, who retrieved the painting with the intention to include it in his personal “World’s Greatest Art Gallery.” It would be filled with degenerate works of past painters. Despite many efforts, the painting was lost after World War II.
#2 “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt Van Rijn
This Rembrandt painting was only one of the thirteen pieces of art that were lost during the greatest heist in American history. Then, two thieves managed to trick the guards into allowing them inside Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by dressing up as police officers. After managing to handcuff them, the pair smuggled up some extremely valuable pieces, this one included.
#3 “Charing Cross Bridge, London” by Claude Monet
On October 2012, the Kunsthal Museum was the victim of a theft that cost it the disappearance of a handful of important works of art. This particular Monet painting, part of a series that depict the Charing Cross Bridge in various moments of the day, was the most valuable loss. Although the convict was later caught and claimed that he burned the piece to hide his traces, there is no solid evidence to back the claim, which led to the painting still being considered missing.
#4 “Le Pigeon aux Petis Pois” by Pablo Picasso
The story of this Picasso work would be hilarious if it weren’t for the tragic undertones. It was stolen during the theft at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris then hurtled into a bin by the convict. The bin was emptied before authorities could get to it, so, assuming it’s not destroyed, Le Pigeon must be on quite the adventure.
#5 “The Just Judges” by Jan Van Eyck
With a story worth of a movie, The Judges brewed a lot of speculations when it was suddenly stolen from its display on the Ghent altarpiece at Saint Bavon’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. In its place, authorities found a note left by the thief, which eventually led them to a negotiation for its retrieval. The painting was never returned, though, and the man who eventually stepped up as the convict did so on his deathbed, when he also revealed that he would take the location of the piece of art to his grave.
#6 “The Concert” by Johannes Vermeer
Another victim of the heist at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Concert is considered to be the most valuable unrecovered piece of art at the moment, with a price attached to it that goes just a bit beyond $200,000,000. The work of art was initially up for display at the Royal Collection in London before it was purchased by the famous philanthropist Isabella Stewart Gardner.
#7 “View Of The Sea At Scheveningen” by Vincent Van Gogh
In 2002, two pulled a genuine cinematic move when they decided to infiltrate the Van Gogh Amsterdam Museum through the roof. They got in and decided to steal only two pieces – one of them was View of the Sea at Scheveningen. Their choice didn’t seem to be baseless, as the two paintings were created during the peaking period in Van Gogh’s career. The two works of art have an estimated value of $30 million.
#8 “Portrait of a Young Man” by Raphael
The last we’d seen of this High Renaissance classic, the painting was hanging on the walls of Hitler’s Berlin villa. After World War II, it was taken down by Nazi official Hans Frank, who supposedly intended to take the work of art to the royal Wawel Castle. The journey there was apparently unsuccessful since there haven’t been any traces of the painting since.
It’s said that the greatest people in history can be considered brilliant through their sheer capacity to be remembered even beyond their domain of activity. You don’t need to be a military expert or historian to know of the deeds of Napoleon Bonaparte or a well-versed classical music junkie to have heard of Beethoven or Mozart. You just do. In a sense, it’s like these personalities have been part of our knowledge since forever. Can anyone really remember the first time they’ve heard of Jules Verne?
This applies to painters as well. In their case, however, something else intervenes – their roles as creators. We all know the “one hit wonder” scenario. A musician, let’s say, releases a song that explodes overnight and becomes a major hit worldwide, but none of the pieces they release afterward manages to match this tremendous display of success. Does anyone, generally, know what happened to the people behind Macarena after they took the world by storm? And, sure, PSY might still be a familiar name today, but in generations to come, his name will likely fade into oblivion and Gangnam Style will undoubtedly be what humanity truly remembers.
Some painters, no matter their legacy, are often outshined by their creations. It may seem like everyone knows who Leonardo da Vinci is, but more than everyone knows about the Mona Lisa. And, with this said, let’s kick off the list which contains the most famous paintings in the world.
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The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
It’s hard to argue about this one, isn’t it? No other woman has been replicated, printed on mugs and other various souvenirs, or thoroughly analyzed like da Vinci’s Gioconda. The painting took roughly 15 years to complete, work for it having been started during the heart of the Renaissance era. The piece has been through a lot, even having been stolen at some point. Fortunately, today it hangs on the wall of Paris’ Louvre, where it’s exhibited under the protection of a thick bullet-proof barrier and visited by an average of 6 million people yearly.
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Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh’s work can easily be considered to be the most famous painted landscape of all time. The image of the village of Saint-Rémy under a trademark intense, swirling blue night sky has become equivalent to the name of the famed Dutch painter. It’s definitely not the only piece by van Gogh that can be universally recognized by quite a lot of people and, in fact, one of his latter works stands as one of the most expensive works of art ever sold. This is truthfully ironic given the fact that van Gogh has only sold one painting while he was alive. This definitely says a lot about his legacy.
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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
Everyone knows this painting, and there have been numerous interpretations of the iconic scene unfolding in this legendary da Vinci piece. Painted near the end of the 15th century, the piece depicts the scene of The Last Supper, where Jesus gathered all of his Twelve Apostles to announce that one of them (spoilers, it’s Judas) would betray him. However, almost as famous as the image itself are the controversies surrounding it. While many people claim that the person seated to Jesus’ right is John the Apostle, several theories have surfaced which claim that was Mary Magdalene. All of this led to numerous media works that used the theory as a focal point, the most famous being Da Vinci’s Code.
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The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti
Nine scenes from the Book of Genesis have been transmuted into works of art through the mastery of Michelangelo. These artworks now embellish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, located in the heart of the Vatican. The most distinct of the images, though, is The Creation of Adam, which was one of the last pieces to be finished. And even though The Last Supper was definitely the source of numerous parodies in its time of existence, this Michelangelo piece probably holds the record.