Cover image for 1000 symbols
1000 symbols
Shepherd, Rowena.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Thames & Hudson, [2002]

Physical Description:
352 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Subject Term:
Added Author:
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NX650.W75 S44 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



1000 Symbols offers a comprehensive directory of symbols in clear, detailed artworks, each accompanied by a definition of the symbol's history and its cross-cultural meanings.

Beginning with an alphabetical, cross-referenced index, the book is then organized into groupings of related symbols:

Geometrical Shapes-circle, square, triangle, pentagram, crescent, and spiral are just a few of the entries.

The Universe and the Elements includes all the symbols for the world around us-earth, air, fire, and water, as well as times of day or month, and the planets.

Characters and People details the symbolism attached to specific characters or to people and their general attributes.

Living Creatures denotes the symbolism of animals, birds, fish, and insects.

Flowers, Plants, and Trees highlights the symbolism of growing things, from the oak to the lotus.

Mythical Beasts contains beasts from the myths and legends of all cultures, including hybrids such as the centaur.

Objects and Artifacts includes made or manufactured objects of symbolism, from knot to labyrinth.

Numbers and Colors outlines their symbolic attributes in different cultures and contexts.

Whether you are baffled by the relevance of the winged staff held by Mercury in a classical painting or wonder about the number of branches on the Hebrew menorah, this comprehensive directory will give you the information you are looking for, and place the explanation in its historical and cultural context.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The authors, both British art historians, are joined by 12 other experts in this field to present an amazing array of multicultural interpretations of the world as condensed into symbolic images. They define a symbol as "something that a particular culture considers to mean something else." Each entry features a blue line drawing of the symbol in a generalized pictographic style. Although the quantity of images could have been overwhelming, the symbols are extremely well organized into numbered columns that correspond with the alphabetical front index, or "symbol finder." This index is invaluable because the text itself is composed of eight thematic chapters, among them "Heaven and Earth," "Characters and People," and "Objects and Artifacts." Pertinent cultural meanings for the symbols are refreshingly worldwide, covering Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, the Americas, and the Pacific. Many of the connotations are religious in nature, with referrences ranging from Aztec beliefs to Mesopotamian mythology to major contemporary religions. The editors encourage readers to "dip" into the book and then follow the threads of capitalized cross references. After doing so, one will never think the same way again about eyes, rabbits, roses, swastikas, the color white, and 995 other things. Even libraries with standard reference works like James Hall's Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art will want to add this one, not just because of its larger number of symbols but for its greater global coverage. Enthusiastically recommended for all public libraries.-Anne Marie Lane, American Heritage Ctr., Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.