WHAT ARE THEY?
They are African symbols.
WHERE ARE THEY USED?
They are used by a number of different cultural groups in Central Africa.
WHAT MESSAGE DO THEY
For the Luba, the three circles represent the Supreme Being, the Sun and the
Moon. This combination of circles symbolizes the unfailing continuity of
life. It is a common belief that ancient African cultures feared the
elements, but in fact African peoples trusted in the continuity of nature,
its unchanging cycle of seasons and the succession of day and night.
The second image symbolizes the union of all creatures, confirming that
everything in the universe is connected. Ancient African peoples in
particular felt a close affinity to nature.
The knot, according to the Yaka, is another expression of the unity between
the world and all its creatures. In the Yaka culture, this symbol would be
used to protect a person's home and land.
HOW ARE THEY USED?
In African cultures, the world can be interpreted by and seen as a series of
signs and symbols. Man interprets these symbols, giving them names, and in
the same way defines himself as a symbol. Within this exhibition, because of
their unifying message, the designer has chosen to use these symbols to link
HOW ARE THESE SYMBOLS DIFFERENT
FROM AN ALPHABET?
Like letters, these symbols can be combined to give a message. However, much
is left unsaid, and a story told can be interpreted in many different ways,
depending on the reader's imagination. In many African cultures, the spoken
word passed down from generation to generation is more sacred than the
HOW ARE SYMBOLS MADE?
A carver uses a chisel to produce these symbols. Each symbol on a piece of
work conveys a message.
WHAT ROLE DO SYMBOLS
The symbols are magical: they communicate messages within the living world
and serve as a link to ancestors and the supernatural world.