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The article is dedicated to the descriptions of symbols and their role in our life. Much emphasis is paid to the significance of symbols used in works of art.


Symbols are objects, pictures, written words, sounds or something like that and imply ideas, thoughts, notions, feelings and beliefs. A number of them are very common, like white rectangle on red background referring to “STOP”, others have particular meaning and evoke deep emotions. For instance, such symbols are the Judaic Star of David or the crucifix in Christianity.

We are surrounded by symbols. Every day we are faced with something that has a symbolic sense. You may see symbols on money, in books, commercials, music compositions, politics etc. To understand the significance of a symbol a person has to know what this symbol refers to. For example, the Chinese symbol of yin and yang looks like an amusing image with white and black colors for people that don't know the underlying significance of the sign. They can enjoy its aesthetic side, but they do not see more than that. On the contrary, in case a person understands the origin of the symbol he sees not just a picture, but an idea of deep correlation of things in our lives.

During the history of humanity symbols were widely applied in art. So, one item on a painting tells a lot about the situation, the concepts of the painter, his views on life and aspirations. To understand the secret significance of a book or a music composition we need to be very attentive to details. Every now and then we need to read critics on a definite piece of art so as to get the idea of the author. This is because the symbols language isn't so simple. So what are the most popular symbols in art and what do they stand for?

Amidst the most common symbols applied in works of art are a book, a candle, a clock and mirrors. A book generally implies knowledge and learning. If you see a lightened candle on a painting it is in most cases a symbol of religion or time passing. On the other hand, a put-out candle implies death and mourning. A clock refers to the time passing. On this point the world-known painting of Salvador Dali called “Melting clocks” implies an idea that nothing in our lives is in keeping with some rules. And eventually, a mirror stands for attempts to get the truth, but in some cases it just implies the vanity.

In such a way, symbols are everywhere in our world. We just need to pay a little more attention to details to see them.

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  • Date Added:02/06/10 
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  • Date Released:02/06/10 
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