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Flashcards in Religious Symbols Deck (11)
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1

what are symbols

- a shared understanding about the meaning of certain words, attributes, or objects
(symbols stand for something else)
(they shape how we see and interpret our realities)
- symbols carry a certain meaning that is usually only recognized by a particular culture (culturally relative: symbols look different from one society to the next)
- written, spoke, or non verbal (gestures)
- found in images, physical objects, or artistic expressions
- symbols in other cultures:
(turkey - pomegranate=fertility)
(dream, catchers to ward off bad dreams)

2

terms

displacement: the ability to use symbols to refer to things and activities that are remote from the user
arbitrary: a feature of symbols, in which the symbol is not related to the thing it symbolizes
- no similarity to what is symbolizes
- must be learned
openness: a feature of symbols; the ability to create new symbols
- examples: company logos

3

religious symbols

- symbols with meaning particular to a religious tradition
- they can be found in myths, art, material culture
- they can be words: written, spoken, or gestured
- examples: praying hands and kneeling while praying

4

religious symbols in dance and music

meaning can be transmitted through dance and music
- dance and music play special roles in rituals

5

religious symbols in dance

- dances can be understood as non-verbal gestures depicting a narrative
- these gestures have meaning for those who belong to that community
- video: the magic dance of Khmer

6

colour

- the name we give to colours, such as "blue", represents their place on the colour spectrum
- colour terminology is considered arbitrary and learned
- Navajo: ideal blue is turquoise
(represents the celestial, peace, happiness, and success)

7

colour: Yoruba

three primary groupings of colours:
1. Pupa (bright colours) - reds, oranges, pinks, yellows, and light brown
- Sango: ruler of thunder and lightening
- colour of pride and quick temperament
2. Duda (dark colours) - indigo, green, purple, black, and brown
- Ossosi: ruler of hunting
- introvert, and unstable
3. funfun (light and shimmering colours) - white, grey, sky blue, silver
- Obatala: king of the Orisha
- colour of wisdom and respect

8

time

calendars helped societies understand patterns
- such as best time to plant crops, hunt, fish, tides, tracking religious holidays
- this is why we have different calendars - product of a society's specific needs
not all traditions use astronomical guides
- day = rotation of the Earth on its axis
- month = moon orbits the Earth
- year = Earth orbiting the sun

9

time: Islam

Muslims follow the Lunar calendar (12 months)
- Muharram (1st month) - a sacred month where there can be no conflict. Martyrdom of Imam Hussein on the 10th days known as Ashura
- Rabi al awwal (3rd month) - a month of celebration. the prophet Muhammed was born
- Rajab (7th month) - another sacred month. no conflict permitted. Imam 'Ali was born
- Ramadan (9th month) - the month of the sacred fast. Laylat ul-Qadr (night of power). Eid al-fitr breaking of the fast
- Dhul al-Hijjah (12th month) - month of pilgrimage. eid al-Adha (sacrifice). And Eid e-Gadie e Khumm (appointmenet of 'Ali by Muhammed)

10

time: The Maya

- the Mayans lived in southern Mexico and central America
- (first calendar) developed a solar calendar: year = 365 days
19 months: 18 months of 20 days and 1 month of 5 days
- (second calendar) also solar: year = 260 days
first cycle composed of 20 day names and second cycle composed of 13 numbers
- both calendars run at the same time, yielding 18,980 unique combinations of the days
- 52 years to complete all combinations
- divination

11

symbols in architecture and design

stained glass windows
gardens
building shapes