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The Book of Symbols. Reflections on Archetypal Images Hardcover – December 30, 2019
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From the Publisher
Handbook of Visual Experience
An exploration of symbols and their meanings throughout history
This encyclopedia explores the hidden meanings of visual symbols across time and geography, from the sun to whales and the human hand. Spanning different eras and cultures, over 800 beautiful images combine with expert illuminations of symbol history, meanings, and psychic associations, offering readers a precious and fascinating resource for thoughtful interpretations of life, art, and spirituality.
Untitled (Ocean no. 1), detail, painting on paper, 1994, United States
The Lotus World, gouache on paper, 18th century, Punjab Hills, India
Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
Coiled Mountain, a copy of a sandpainting of the Navajo Shooting Chant, one of the most important healing ceremonies, by Franc J. Newcomb, United States
A Bird, pen and ink drawing on watercolor paper, 2008, United States
"Yes, the 807 page book is a doorstop. But it is also a stairway to heaven. The amazing gift is not its weight or its cover, but what lies between: a tangible (r)evolution in consciousness." (HuffingtonPost.com)
“...not just an interesting ecclesiastical read but a fascinating look at history through the eyes of ancient man.” (125 Magazine, London)
"Bright, optimistic, bountiful and brainy, it makes you reel with a sense of wonder at the complexity of the human mind and soul… You can’t ask for more than that." (Creative Review, London)
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I think there are better books on symbolism available.
Minimal information, only covers very general descriptions. And, ironically it doesn't actually include the symbolic meaning of many of the animals listed. Overall, disappointed. This will likely be a dust collector as I don't find it very useful.
Physically, it has beautiful foil insets for the different sections, just like in old dictionaries. It's sized where it's convenient to carry but would also make a good coffee table book.
The content is a collection of individual essays about each topic with beautiful images to accompany most subjects. It's divided by category too, which reinforces its reference-book styling. The essays are brief enough for a fairly quick read. Most, I would say took me no longer than 4-5 minutes, and that include studying the pictures. Expect an introduction to subjects, not a deep study, and you'll treasure this too.
I'm very happy to add this to my library.
Top international reviews
I will say though that as of the date I brought it, there's only one orange ribbon to bookmark with. So the current image is falsely advertising the 5 coloured ribbons and should be updated asap so other's know exactly what they're buying.
It is very inclusive, you will find images such as the umbrella or the car, which takes it further than tradition.
But beware! This is NOT a book where you will read about the meaning of ouroboros, or the ankh, or the celtic cross, etc., etc. The word archetypal in the subtitle is of great importance. If this is what you're looking for, than I would suggest:
The Illustrated Signs and Symbols Sourcebook
First, the quality is not great. The paper feels very thin and that the cheapest materials were used to create it. Explains why the price is lower than other books but also made me feel like I waisted the 16+ £.
Second, I did not find the information helpful at all. The book speaks about hundred of symbols but does not say much of anything. I kept reading through it and found that I lost interest in the book the more I read. I think it could have been written better.
Lastly, I would not recommend this book to anyone, except someone who already has a lot of knowledge about symbols. This is not a beginner-friendly book.