- Heart (symbol)
The heart (♥) has long been used as a
symbolto refer to the spiritual, emotional, moral, and in the past also intellectual core of a human being. As the heartwas once widely believed to be the seat of the human mind, the word "heart" continues to be used poetically to refer to the soul, and stylized depictions of hearts are extremely prevalent symbols representing love.
In mythology, spirituality and religion
In religious texts the heart has historically been ascribed much mystical significance, either as
metaphoror as an organ genuinely believed to have spiritual or divine attributes.
Egyptian mythology, the heart portion of the soul was weighed in a balance against the featherof Ma'at, symbolising truth, in the judgment of the dead in the Egyptian " Book of the Dead". Egyptian sources do not actually reveal whether the heart had to be lighter or heavier than the feather for the deceased to pass into paradise - all depictions show only the weighing of the heart, not the actual results, heavier or lighter.
Similarly, in the Bible, this idea emerges in the earliest passages;
Genesis6:5 situates the thoughts of evil men in their hearts, and Exodus5 through 12 speak repeatedly of the Lord "hardening Pharaoh's heart." By this it is meant that God made Pharaoh resolve not to let the Israelite slaves leave Egypt, in order to bring judgment against Pharaoh and demonstrate his power: "'Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them'" (Exodus 10:1). In the Book of Jeremiah17:9, it is written that the Lord is the judge who "tries" the human heart.
Sacred Heart of Jesusand the Immaculate Heart of Maryare traditional Roman Catholic devotional images.
In early science and philosophy
Many classical philosophers and scientists, including
Aristotle, considered the heart the seat of thought, reasonor emotion, often rejecting the value of the brain.
The Stoics taught that the heart was the seat of the human soul.
The Roman physician
Galenlocated the seat of the passions in the liver, the seat of reason in the brain, and considered the heart to be the seat of the emotions. While Galen's identification of the heart with emotion were proposed as a part of his theory of the circulatory system, the heart has continued to be used as a symbolic source of human emotions even after the rejection of such beliefs.
These themes were reiterated in the European
European traditional art and folklore, the heart symbol is drawn in a stylized shape. This shape is typically colored red, suggesting both bloodand, in many cultures, passion and strong emotion. The hearts have constituted, since the 15th century, one of the red suits in most playing carddecks. The shape is particularly associated with romantic love; it is often seen on St. Valentine's Daycards, candyboxes, and similar popular cultureartifacts as a symbol of romantic love.
What the traditional "heart shape" actually depicts is a matter of some controversy. It only vaguely resembles the human heart. Some people claim that it actually depicts the heart of a cow, a more readily available sight to most people in past centuries than an actual human heart. However, while bovine hearts are more similar to the iconic heart shape, the resemblance is still slight.
The "heart" shape could also be considered to depict features of the human female body, such as the female's pubic mound or spread
vulva. The tantric symbol of the " Yoni" is another example of a heart-shaped abstraction of a woman's vulva. In the introduction to " The Vagina Monologues" Gloria Steinemwrites, " [The heart] was reduced from power to romance by centuries of male dominance."
Another theory is that the heart resembles the shape of the female
breasts or the female buttocks.Who|date=June 2008
Another possible origin can be seen on the coins of the ancient city of Cyrene, some of which depict the seeds or fruit of the now-extinct
silphiumplant. The seeds are distinctly heart-shaped. Since this plant was widely used as an ancient herbal contraceptiveor "abortifacient", this shape may have come to be associated with sexuality and love.Fact|date=June 2008
The "heart" shape is formed by the back and wings of a
doveFact|date=June 2008, which was associated with Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddessof love.
The most common
emoticonfor the heart is <3. In Unicodeseveral heart symbols are available:
The heart symbol (unicode|♥) is used in slang expressions to indicate
loveor affection, sometimes with a connotation that the feeling is superficial or juvenile. It is a play upon Milton Glaser's classic I Love New Yorklogo (typeset "I unicode|♥ NY"). In the U.S., it can be used to show that one has a crush on someone or is in love with someone (i.e. "I unicode|♥ [someone's name] " or " [Someone] unicode|♥s [Someone else] "). It is also present in some recent titles, e.g. the film "I ♥ Huckabees", the video game "We ♥ Katamari", or the Naoki Maedasongs, "CANDY♥" and "LOVE ♥ SHINE".
The widespread use of this expression has inspired many parodies. Originally pronounced "I love",
hipsters have taken to facetiously verbalizing it as "I heart". Other examples include:
bumper stickers have included:
** "I ♠ My Cat" for "I Spayed My Cat" (using "♠" = "spade" as a homophone and common pun for "spayed")
** "I ♣ Seals" for "I Club Seals" (using "♣" = "club" referring to seal clubbing).
* A "
The Far Side" cartoon by Gary Larsonpictured Godzilladriving a car with an "I 8 NY" bumper sticker (8 meaning ate).
* [http://www.slate.com/id/2159800/?GT1=9129 The Shape of My Heart: Where did the ubiquitous Valentine's symbol come from?] by Keelin McDonell, Slate.com.
* [http://www.heartsymbol.com www.heartsymbol.com: The Heart Symbol - Origin, History And Significance] by Prof.
*The shape of the heart, by Pierre Vinken, Amsterdam 2000.
*How the heart was held in medieval art, by Pierre Vinken, The Lancet, 358, 22, december 2001, 2155-2157.
*A heart was not intended, by Pierre Vinken, Scientiarum Historia, 28, 2002, 3-21.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.