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1000 Symbols [Paperback]

Rupert Shepherd , R Shephard
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 25 2002
Symbols are an international language, but that language is far from universal. Different symbols mean radically different things in different contexts—a cross, a crane, or a swastika each have a distinct meaning for a Buddhist, an art historian, or a student of the occult. 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're looking for, and place the explanation in its historical and cultural context. 1000 illustrations in 2 colors.

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From Library Journal

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
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Comprehensive reference dictionary, enabling you to identify a symbol, discover its history, and determine its cross-cultural meaning.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete Guide to Symbols and Their Meaning Dec 1 2002
"1000 Symbols" is an extensive compendium of symbols from around the world. What makes this book unique from other books on symbols is the worldwide approach. A specific symbol can mean widely differing things in different cultural contexts and the authors do a wonderful job of examining each interpretation. Each symbol has a number that is cross-referenced to the index at the beginning of the book making them easy to find. In addition, the symbols are categorized into eight general categories for easy browsing. The categories are Heaven and Earth, Characters and People, Body and Actions, Living Creatures, Mythical Beasts, Flowers, Plants and Trees, Objects and Artefacts, and Abstracts. Each of these categories is also subdivided.
Each of the symbols discussed has a line drawing of the symbol along with a detailed description of what the symbol meant to different groups, how it is used today, various ways it was drawn, etc. If you want to know about the various symbols that surround us this is an excellent place to find out. A highly recommended reference for anyone interested in symbols.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 1000 Symbols March 21 2008
1000 Symbols came highly recommended to me from one of my professors in one of my classes on symbols. It was billed as one of the most extensive collection of symbols ever published. Given my interest in archetypes, mythology, and dream symbolism, I was intrigued so I put this book on my wish list.

1000 Symbols takes a slightly different take on symbols than other reference books on my shelf. All of the symbols included are actually illustrated, which is extremely useful when looking up a particular image. Moreover, each of the entries is presented detailing the historical usage of each item. For easy reference, the book is divided into categories and subcategories such as Characters and then various parts of the world or Living Creatures and then various types of animals. It really is a must have resource for anyone wanting more information about symbols.
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1000 Symbols could as easily have been featured in an art books section but deserves mention for Metaphysical Studies for its extensive inclusion of spiritual symbols as well. The symbols are grouped into defined categories and groups of related symbols, from Body and Actions to Egyptian and European. A fascinating, revealing reference, highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars ADDITIONAL REFERENCE AS DICTIONARY Oct. 7 2003
Impressive book because of its good contents. Will be good for children as means to learn the beauty of the art and symbols. Although the binding of the book is bad because of its thick individual pages. I hope publisher see to it that the pages are snug together. Thank you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exce;ent symbol book March 19 2004
This book contains symbols that no other book contains. If you are a artist you can draw them. It contais biblical, and mythical people, flowers, and herbes, and their meaning. I thought think this book is wonderful and beautifully illustrated.
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