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Symbolic Imagery Collection

Symbolic imagery has played a significant role in human history, transcending time and cultures

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: La Calavera de la Catrina, 1913 (zinc etching) (b / w photo)

La Calavera de la Catrina, 1913 (zinc etching) (b / w photo)
XIR190234 La Calavera de la Catrina, 1913 (zinc etching) (b/w photo) by Posada, Jose Guadalupe (1851-1913); 12x16 cm; Private Collection; (add.info)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Self-Portrait with Five Muses, c. 1880 (oil on paper mounted to board)

Self-Portrait with Five Muses, c. 1880 (oil on paper mounted to board)
XOS5884673 Self-Portrait with Five Muses, c. 1880 (oil on paper mounted to board) by Church, Henry (1836-1908); 73.3x59.7 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Ornate Plate with Elephant Carvings (silver)

Ornate Plate with Elephant Carvings (silver)
UIG5431033 Ornate Plate with Elephant Carvings (silver) by Thai School; Dorling Kindersley/UIG

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Hand of Justice from the Coronation of Napoleon I, 1804 (ivory, gilded silver, gold)

Hand of Justice from the Coronation of Napoleon I, 1804 (ivory, gilded silver, gold, precious stones)
8618066 Hand of Justice from the Coronation of Napoleon I, 1804 (ivory, gilded silver, gold, precious stones) by Biennais

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Narmer palette (back), 22nd century BC (relief)

Narmer palette (back), 22nd century BC (relief)
8585767 Narmer palette (back), 22nd century BC (relief) by Egyptian; Egyptian National Museum, Cairo, Egypt; (add.info.: Narmer palette (back) or Hierakonpolis Large palette

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Narmer palette (front), 22nd century BC (relief)

Narmer palette (front), 22nd century BC (relief)
8585746 Narmer palette (front), 22nd century BC (relief) by Egyptian; Egyptian National Museum, Cairo, Egypt; (add.info.: Narmer palette (front) or Hierakonpolis Large palette

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Queen of Egypt of the Fourth Dynasty, Philae Temple

Queen of Egypt of the Fourth Dynasty, Philae Temple
8588950 Queen of Egypt of the Fourth Dynasty, Philae Temple by Egyptian; Philae, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Temple of Philae, the cult of Isis Queen of Egypt of the IV dynasty)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Boat symbol of life and the sun, Philae temple

Boat symbol of life and the sun, Philae temple
8588863 Boat symbol of life and the sun, Philae temple by Egyptian; Philae, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Temple of Philae, the cult of Isis Boat symbol of life and the sun); © Jean Bernard

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Beetle, Tomb of Ramses IX, Luxor

Beetle, Tomb of Ramses IX, Luxor
8587540 Beetle, Tomb of Ramses IX, Luxor by Egyptian; Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Beetle in the center of Udjat's eyes, Tomb of Ramses IX, Luxor

Beetle in the center of Udjat's eyes, Tomb of Ramses IX, Luxor
8587388 Beetle in the center of Udjat's eyes, Tomb of Ramses IX, Luxor by Egyptian; Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Horus, Horus Temple, Edfu (sculpture)

Horus, Horus Temple, Edfu (sculpture)
8587156 Horus, Horus Temple, Edfu (sculpture) by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Edfu, city located on the left bank of the Nile between Aswan and Luxor Temple of Edfu)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: The ram representing the Pharaoh, temple of Horus, Edfu

The ram representing the Pharaoh, temple of Horus, Edfu
8587802 The ram representing the Pharaoh, temple of Horus, Edfu by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Luxor Temple: Pharaoh wearing a cobra (relief)

Luxor Temple: Pharaoh wearing a cobra (relief)
8585976 Luxor Temple: Pharaoh wearing a cobra (relief) by Egyptian; Temple of Luxor, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Pharaoh wearing a cobra, Luxor Temple (relief)

Pharaoh wearing a cobra, Luxor Temple (relief)
8585916 Pharaoh wearing a cobra, Luxor Temple (relief) by Egyptian; Temple of Luxor, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Pharaoh, Luxor Temple (relief)

Pharaoh, Luxor Temple (relief)
8585886 Pharaoh, Luxor Temple (relief) by Egyptian; Temple of Luxor, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Detail of a Skeleton, base of The Trinity, Basilica Santa Maria Novella, 1425 (fresco)

Detail of a Skeleton, base of The Trinity, Basilica Santa Maria Novella, 1425 (fresco)
3598985 Detail of a Skeleton, base of The Trinity, Basilica Santa Maria Novella, 1425 (fresco) by Masaccio, Tommaso (1401-28); (add.info.: by Tommaso Masaccio); Photo © Raffaello Bencini

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Front cover of The Illustrated London News Silver Jubilee Celebrations Number

Front cover of The Illustrated London News Silver Jubilee Celebrations Number, 11th May 1935 (colour litho)
3330299 Front cover of The Illustrated London News Silver Jubilee Celebrations Number, 11th May 1935 (colour litho) by English School

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Crocodile, Kom Ombo Temple (sculpture)

Crocodile, Kom Ombo Temple (sculpture)
8588228 Crocodile, Kom Ombo Temple (sculpture) by Egyptian; Temple of Sobek and Haroeris, Kom Ombo, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Man pulling a cow, Horus temple, Edfu

Man pulling a cow, Horus temple, Edfu
8588903 Man pulling a cow, Horus temple, Edfu by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt Edfu, a city in Upper Egypt housing the Temple of Horus. Built from 237 to 57 BC)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Pharaoh with Cobra's headdress, Karnac (relief)

Pharaoh with Cobra's headdress, Karnac (relief)
8586113 Pharaoh with Cobra's headdress, Karnac (relief) by Egyptian; Karnak, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Representation of the Bee, Valley of the Kings, Luxor

Representation of the Bee, Valley of the Kings, Luxor
8588254 Representation of the Bee, Valley of the Kings, Luxor by Egyptian; Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Souvenirs of the Eastern Capital on the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido

Souvenirs of the Eastern Capital on the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido
8599108 Souvenirs of the Eastern Capital on the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido: The Actor Onoe Baiko III as the Cat Spirit of the Old Temple, 1841 (ink)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Sekhmet, Horus Temple, Edfu

Sekhmet, Horus Temple, Edfu
8587464 Sekhmet, Horus Temple, Edfu by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Edfu, city located on the left bank of the Nile between Aswan and Luxor Temple of Edfu)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Tomb of Ramses IX, Valley of the Kings, Luxor

Tomb of Ramses IX, Valley of the Kings, Luxor
8587204 Tomb of Ramses IX, Valley of the Kings, Luxor by Egyptian; Valley of the Kings, Thebes, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Eagles symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt, Temple of Horus, Edfu

Eagles symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt, Temple of Horus, Edfu
8586924 Eagles symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt, Temple of Horus, Edfu by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt Edfu, a city in Upper Egypt housing the Temple of Horus)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Eagles symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt, Temple of Horus, Edfu

Eagles symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt, Temple of Horus, Edfu
8586497 Eagles symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt, Temple of Horus, Edfu by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt Edfu, a city in Upper Egypt housing the Temple of Horus)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: The bee symbol of the Pharaoh (relief)

The bee symbol of the Pharaoh (relief)
8586142 The bee symbol of the Pharaoh (relief) by Egyptian; Karnak, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Beetle stele (sculpture)

Beetle stele (sculpture)
8586053 Beetle stele (sculpture) by Egyptian; Karnak Temple, Karnak, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes. Capital of pharaohs between the 16th and 11th centuries BC)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Mut and Khnum, Luxor Temple (relief)

Mut and Khnum, Luxor Temple (relief)
8585873 Mut and Khnum, Luxor Temple (relief) by Egyptian; Temple of Luxor, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: For the united Russia. Bolshevism creep over the heart of Russia with the thick snake ring

For the united Russia. Bolshevism creep over the heart of Russia with the thick snake ring, 1919 (poster)
FIA5373472 For the united Russia. Bolshevism creep over the heart of Russia with the thick snake ring, 1919 (poster) by Russian School (20th century) ; State Historical Museum, Moscow

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Re moves on the solar boat, Luxor Temple (relief)

Re moves on the solar boat, Luxor Temple (relief)
8585929 Re moves on the solar boat, Luxor Temple (relief) by Egyptian; Temple of Luxor, Luxor, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Re Brigade, Ninth Group (Kubangumi): (Ichimura Kakitsu IV as) Reizaburō the Little Fox (Kogitsune)

Re Brigade, Ninth Group (Kubangumi): (Ichimura Kakitsu IV as) Reizaburō the Little Fox (Kogitsune), 8th month
8599107 Re Brigade, Ninth Group (Kubangumi): (Ichimura Kakitsu IV as) Reizaburō the Little Fox (Kogitsune), 8th month, 1866 (ink and colour on paper) by Kunichika

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Hieroglyps, Pharaoh's Bee and the Horus Falcon, Horus Temple, Edfu

Hieroglyps, Pharaoh's Bee and the Horus Falcon, Horus Temple, Edfu
8587250 Hieroglyps, Pharaoh's Bee and the Horus Falcon, Horus Temple, Edfu by Egyptian; Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Beetle, emblem of royal power, site of Karnac

Beetle, emblem of royal power, site of Karnac
8586035 Beetle, emblem of royal power, site of Karnac by Egyptian; Karnak Temple, Karnak, Egypt; (add.info.: Egypt. Luxor, city on the Nile of ancient Thebes)

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: Taoist alchemy, 17th century (ink and color on silk)

Taoist alchemy, 17th century (ink and color on silk)
8601652 Taoist alchemy, 17th century (ink and color on silk) by Chinese School, Qing Dynasty (1644-1912); 24.5 x 22.5 cm; Private Collection; Photo © Christie's Images

Background imageSymbolic Imagery Collection: The Birth of Venus, c.1485 (tempera on canvas)

The Birth of Venus, c.1485 (tempera on canvas)
BEN285731 The Birth of Venus, c.1485 (tempera on canvas) by Botticelli, Sandro (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi) (1444/5-1510); 180x280 cm; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Tuscany


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Symbolic imagery has played a significant role in human history, transcending time and cultures. From ancient civilizations to modern times, these powerful visual representations have conveyed deeper meanings and messages that go beyond their physical form. One such example is the iconic La Calavera de la Catrina, a zinc etching from 1913. This black and white photograph captures the essence of Mexican culture with its skeletal figure adorned in an elegant hat. It serves as a reminder of the inevitability of death and the celebration of life. Traveling back thousands of years, we encounter the Narmer palette, a relief dating back to the 22nd century BC. Its intricate carvings depict both sides: one showcasing Narmer's triumph over his enemies while the other reveals his regal presence as Egypt's ruler. This artifact symbolizes power, unity, and divine authority. Moving forward in Egyptian history, we find ourselves at Philae Temple where images of queens and boats take center stage. The Queen of Egypt from the Fourth Dynasty stands tall amidst hieroglyphs representing her significance as a female leader during this era. Meanwhile, a boat symbolizing life and sun worship reminds us of ancient Egyptians' deep connection with nature. Venturing into tombs like that of Ramses IX in Luxor brings us face to face with symbolic beetles adorning walls. These sacred insects were believed to represent rebirth and transformation - essential elements for eternal afterlife according to Egyptian mythology. Continuing our journey through temples dedicated to gods like Horus in Edfu unveils sculptures depicting this falcon-headed deity associated with protection and kingship. A ram also takes center stage here as it represents Pharaoh's authority within Horus' temple complex - an embodiment of leadership intertwined with divinity. Lastly, Luxor Temple showcases reliefs featuring pharaohs wearing cobras on their foreheads - symbols denoting royalty but also protection against evil forces.