Sunday, November 29, 2009
The Dove in Symbolism
Here's an informative and reader-friendly article on the meaning of the dove, a very ancient symbol for the Mother Goddess, in ancient cultures in the Middle East from Biblical Archaeology online. Image: Walters Art Museum, Baltimore In addition to its symbolism for the Holy Spirit, the dove was a popular Christian symbol before the cross rose to prominence in the fourth century. The dove continued to be used for various church implements throughout the Byzantine and medieval period, including the form of oil lamps and this 13th-century altar piece for holding the Eucharistic bread. The Enduring Symbolism of Doves From Ancient Icon to Biblical Mainstay by Dorothy D. Resig Few symbols have a tradition as long and as rich as the dove. A particular favorite in art and iconography, the dove often represents some aspect of the divine, and its use has been shared, adapted and reinterpreted across cultures and millennia to suit changing belief systems. From the ancient world to modern times, this simple bird developed layer upon layer of meaning and interpretive significance, making it a complex and powerful addition to religious texts and visual representations. Image: Naos, Ardon Bar Hama. A dove and two bird-like female figures perch atop this clay house shrine from the Iron Age. The dove was widely recognized throughout the Ancient Near Eastern world as a symbol of the mother goddess Asherah and her counterparts Astarte and Tanit. In the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean world, the dove became an iconic symbol of the mother goddess. Small clay shrines from the Iron Age Levant depict doves perched atop the doorways of these mini-temples. On one example from Cyprus, the entire exterior of the goddess’s shrine is covered with dovecotes. The doves represented feminine fertility and procreation, and came to be well-recognized symbols of the Canaanite goddess Asherah and her counterpart Astarte, as well as her Phoenician and later Punic embodiment, Tanit. First-century B.C. coins from Ashkelon bore a dove, which represented both the goddess Tyche-Astarte and the city mint. In Rome and throughout the Empire, goddesses such as Venus and Fortunata could be seen depicted in statues with a dove resting in their hand or on their head. Rest of article.