Posted by: dreamofdestiny | Thursday, 11 Dec 2008

Symbols in Culture

Symbols are representation of a culture. You actually see them everywhere, just that you may not be fully aware of them. Culture, in another form, can be interpreted as “understood as systems of symbols and meanings that even their creators contest, that lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another“.

Symbols can be associated with countries and nations, in the form of structures. For example, the Statue of Liberty is a representation of the American people, the Big Ben in London, the Great Wall in China, and the Taj Mahal in India. You would often see these structures on tour maps.

Symbols can also be as common as every other thing we see everyday. The swastika symbol for example, is widely known, so as the dollar sign, which represents money. The heart sign represents love for example. Expensive cars in advertisements are represented as symbols of prestige and luxury, without the use of words.

Even people can be appreciated as symbols. For example, Mahatma Gandhi is often portrayed as a symbol for someone who values peace above all else, even where violence is also around you. How about celebrities, actors and singers, they are symbols for pride and freedom and expression for many young generations, as well as the old.

Flags also are often used as symbols. In war, the all-white flag is globally understood as the symbol of surrender. The squared black-and-white flag are used in race tracks as a symbol many of you readers are surely easy to recognise. Every single country in the world uses flag that identify with its citizens. Every single strip, line, or image on those flags mean something to the citizens of those countries.

Symbols are used in branding for products. MacDonalds, KFC, Burger King, and Starbucks, all have their respective symbols that make it easy for us to search for whenever we are in a shopping mall or on the road.

Hand gestures are sometimes used to symbolise response. Phrases like  “good”, “bad”, “come here”, and “i do not know” can be represented using hand gestures.

Language is also interlinked with symbols. For example, the phrase “law and order” are commonplace in the united States, as well as “peace and order” in the Philippines. Granted, languages came from symbols, made from when humans still live in caves.

In the future, I may well interpret specific symbols in dedicated posts.


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