Playing With Symbols Gives That Zing

You find emojis, computer icons, road signs, logos, and emblems everywhere. They’re a useful eye-catching shorthand for small spaces. And were used in history the same way.

Using these time-tested patterns on a scroll inspires the recipient or any viewer really. Symbols like eyes, hearts, hands, arrows, circles still evoke grand meaning. They add depth and detail for the viewer giving language to your art. It puts the zing in your art thing.

But when you use a symbol on a scroll today you want to consider its many meanings. What it meant back then and what it means today. Even what it meant to the recipient’s persona and culture. Cute things like rabbits weren’t just furry animals they were fertility symbols.

Matthieu Chartrain’s Capstone

There’re other questions to answer, too. Does the symbol have a unique or specific meaning in the SCA? What message does it send intentionally or unintentionally? And -unfortunately – you also want to know whether that pattern has been taken up by any modern-day bad actors.

Manesse Codex pages work well with symbols. In this one the fighter’s heraldic arms on the horse tell you Matthieu Chartrain is the one kneeling and swearing fealty. The red and black color of the lady’s cote hint she is related somehow to the Barony of the Lonely Tower. She is Honnoree de Saussay, famously known for loving peafowl. They’re even on her arms. Besides the peacock in the tree the other birds represent locations. The falcon for Calontir and the goose for Lonely Tower.

Searching for symbol information can be a lifetime career if you choose it. It’s called iconography. To make it easier than a career I’ve included a short list below. I found it in Barbara Call’s book The Crafter’s Devotional.

This list doesn’t include specific heraldic symbols. I’ve only dipped my toe in that vast ocean. This one coaxes my curiosity aplenty.

Architecture
Doorway or gate: passage, transition Fountain: eternal life House: psyche, dwelling of soul Roof: feminine, sheltering principle Stairs: steps in spiritual development, passage of life to death Wall: strength, containment

Human Body
Foot: balance, freedom of movement Footprint: leaving one’s mark Hands: open, palms up-welcome; folded- submission; raised to head- thought

Objects
Anchor: stability, safety Cup: feminine realm Hourglass: mortality, passage of time Key: power to open things, symbol of wisdom Mirror: reflection, self-knowledge Thread: life, human destiny

Shapes
Circle: infinity, eternity Spiral: vortex of energy; in dreams- growth, need for change Square: dependability, honesty, safety Triangle: the trinity; pointing up- assent to heaven; pointing down- grace descending

On a scroll using personal references shows-off the recipient’s skills, creations, or talents. Symbols are a perfect way to give them spirit in pint-sized detail. Tiny rich-meaning motifs warming the heart.

Your turn to zing. Which symbols do you use in the scrolls you create? Which ones would represent you best if you were receiving an award?

Related External Resources

Categories: Illumination

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