Ancient Symbols

Symbols have been used since ancient times to communicate various meanings, abstract ideas and concepts. They can be found in every corner of the globe.


Every culture and religion have relied on symbols to express various ideas, and oftentimes, the same symbol can have different meanings depending on the context and era it’s viewed within. For example, a cross can be a mathematical symbol, but it can also represent medicine or Christianity, which is why context is paramount when decoding symbols.


What’s most interesting about symbols is that a symbol’s meaning isn’t inherent but is learned culturally. Take the Swastika – an ancient Eastern religious symbol tainted by Nazi Germans. Today, it’s viewed as both a symbol of hate and a symbol of protection, proof that symbols are dynamic, changing with time and context. 


Symbols continue to be everywhere in modern society, some of them ancient and others repurposed. They can be found in architecture, jewelry, fashion, literature, politics and businesses. Understanding the meanings of symbols is like learning a new language. They convey whole ideas, conversations, values and philosophies.  Our series of articles on ancient symbols explore the origins and importance of popular symbols, while highlighting their symbolism and modern relevance.

What is the Tabono symbol?

Tabono symbol meaning and history

The West African Adinkra language is full of many symbols representing complex ideas, expressions, the attitudes of the West African people toward life, as well as their proverbs and behaviors. ...

What’s the Symbolism of a Trident?

Trident meaning and symbolism

The trident is a powerful symbol as well as a robust weapon and tool. It’s been used as both by many civilizations throughout history and it’s very much alive in modern culture as well. But what ...

Lakota Symbol – Symbolism, Meaning and Relevance

What is the Lakota symbol

Recognized for its hourglass form, or two connected triangles—one inverted on top of the other—the Lakota symbol holds great meaning for the indigenous people of North America. Every civilization ...

What Exactly is the Manaia Symbol?

Manaia symbolism and meaning

The Maori civilization did not have a written language, making their symbols paramount in their culture. There are many Maori symbols that are popular today, each with its own profound meaning. ...

Amaru (Incan Legend) – Origin and Symbolism

Amaru bird symbol

The Amaru, a mythical two-headed serpent or dragon, is an important figure in Incan mythology. It has special powers and could cross the boundaries between the spiritual realm and the underworld. ...

Infinity Symbol – Origins and Meaning

Infinity symbol meaning and origins

The infinity symbol, also called the eternity symbol or the forever symbol, is a highly recognizable image, but where did it come from and why was this particular image chosen to represent ...

Tetractys Symbol – What Does It Mean?

Tetractys symbol origins

The Tetractys is a rather unique symbol both because of its appearance and its history. It’s made up of 10 identical dots arranged in four rows forming a triangle. The bottom row includes 4 dots, ...

Khanda Symbol and What It Represents

Khanda symbol

The Khanda symbol is visually intriguing, featuring three swords and a circle, carefully arranged in a manner to symbolize the foundational concepts of the Sikh faith. Let’s take a closer look at ...

Sankofa – What Does This Adinkra Symbol Mean?

Sankofa symbolism

Adinkra symbols are images that convey concepts and can be used to tell stories, much like hieroglyphs. Of these, the Sankofa is one of the eight original akansha symbols from the Ghana and also one ...

Gye Nyame – What Does It Symbolize? (Adinkra)

Gye nyame symbol

Gye Nyame is one of the most popular traditional Adinkra symbols of the Akan people of West Africa, Ghana. Nyame is the word for God in their language, and the phrase Gye Nyame means except with ...

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