The next part in our series of symbolism articles is about a specific subject; the symbols of strength and perseverance around the world. Without further ado, here is the detailed list of strength symbols across cultures.
The Djed Pillar, The Egyptian Symbol of Strength
The Djed pillar was popularly known as a symbol of strength and stability in ancient Egyptian culture. It also represents immutability, fertility, resurrection, and eternal life.
The Djed pillar symbol inspired by the human spine is in the shape of a column and often has a broad or rectangular base that tapers to a smaller capital when it rises. It is crossed by four parallel bars, though in some art and architecture pieces the symbol only consists of three bars.
This symbol is most closely related to Osiris, the god of the dead, resurrection, and the underworld and is also known as the backbone of Osiris.
Golden Eagle, The Symbol of Strength in Near East and Europe
It is not surprising that the golden eagle is a symbol of strength, considering it is a massive bird of prey that does not have any natural predators.
Golden eagles are also able to hunt and kill much larger animals than themselves, including deer, sheep, and even wolves.
Due to their fearsome nature, these birds represent strength, courage, fierceness, immortality, and military might across various cultures. On a side note, they are also viewed as the messenger of gods.
Hamsa, The Middle Eastern Symbol of Strength
The word “Hamsa” is derived from the Arabic word “khamsa” which means five and refers to the palm-shaped symbol that is popular across the Middle East.
The Hamsa symbol is often drawn in a highly stylized way and may also include an evil eye in the middle of the palm.
Believed to represent strength, protection from evil, and luck, the origins of the Hamsa symbol can be traced back to Mesopotamia, ancient Carthage, and Egypt.
Ailm, the Celtic Symbol of Strength
The Ailm symbol is the sixteenth letter of the Ogham alphabet, an ancient form of writing that can be found on stones across Ireland.
The symbol represents strength, endurance, and resilience in Celtic culture. It also stands for purity and wholeness of the soul, indicating that this rune has very deep meanings.
The Ailm symbol is also closely linked with the silver fir tree, which was revered for surviving the harshest of adversities and to keep growing. This makes the Ailm one of the significant Celtic symbols of strength and perseverance.
In addition, the silver fir tree also represents the healing of the soul.
Dara, the Celtic Symbol of Strength
The word “Dara” is derived from the Irish word “doire” which translates into “wood.” The word was used in Celtic culture to refer to the oak tree, which was considered sacred by the Druids.
A symbol of strength, resistance, morale, and knowledge, the oak tree was one of the most beloved trees of the ancient Celts. The trees were known for enduring adverse conditions while their wood was used to make boats and houses because of its strength.
Oak trees can also live for over 300 years, making them living legends that embody centuries of wisdom in their towering bodies.
Scarab, the Egyptian Symbol of Strength
The next one in our list of symbols of strength and perseverance is another symbol from ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle. As one of the most prominent and ubiquitous symbols of ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle represents strength, vitality, and fertility as well as longevity, immortality, transformation, and resurrection.
The scarab is the personification of the Egyptian sun god, Khepri, who was also associated with resurrection.
As such, the images and amulets of heart scarab and the large-winged scarab beetles were placed on the bodies of the deceased for protection against evil and good luck in the afterlife.
Triskelion, the Celtic Symbol of Strength
The word “triskelion” is derived from the Greek word “triskeles” which means three legs. The symbol may be interpreted as three bent human legs or three running wheels.
The triskelion/triskele is another strength symbol in Celtic culture. It also represents the strong will and fortitude required to move forward in the face of adversities.
In addition, the symbol represents the three realms: the physical, spiritual, and celestial.
Other concepts represented by the triskelion/triskele are creation, protection, destruction, and life, death, and rebirth.
Lotus, the Buddhist Symbol of Strength
Among the followers of Buddhism, the lotus flower is a symbol of strength and perseverance.
Coming into existence in the murky underwater environment, this flower keeps growing under difficult conditions until it breaks the surface of the water.
Although there are many aquatic flowers, the lotus flower is the only one that can rise 12 inches above the water. This show of strength and resilience is the reason the lotus flower is considered a symbol of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Phoenix, The Mythical Firebird As A Symbol of Strength
As the mythical firebird that rises from the ashes, the phoenix is not just known as a symbol of resurrection but also strength and perseverance all over the world.
The phoenix was first mentioned in Egyptian legends and later in Greco-Roman accounts. This legendary bird bursts into flames when it dies and is reborn from the ashes of that very fire. Persevering through the literal trial of fire has made the legendary firebird one of the most popular strength symbols across cultures around the world.
The phoenix was also used as a symbol of the perpetual strengthand continuation of the Roman Empire.
The Club of Hercules, The Symbol of Strength in Greco-Roman Cultures
Although most Greek and Roman gods were known to use bows, arrows and spears, this was not the case with the legendary hero Hercules.
The demigod was known for his superhuman strength, which was a legacy of Zeus, his father, and the king of Olympus.
Hercules’s symbol was his wooden club crafted from the Tree of Life which was said to imbue any weapons made of it with the strength that was equal to the man who wielded that weapon.
Naturally, Hercules’s club had his legendary strength and was considered a strength symbol alongside the hero.
Okodee Mmowere, the Adinkra Symbol of Strength
Okodee mmowere, the Adinkra symbol from Africa, is the next item on our list of strength symbols.
The term “okodee mmowere” translates as “the talons of the eagle” and is a famous Adinkra symbol for strength and courage.
Just like in Europe and Near East, the eagle is believed to be the strongest bird in the sky by the Akans. For the Akan people, the strength of the eagle was concentrated in its talons.
Hence, this bird of prey symbol is used to represent strength, bravery, and unity.
Aegishjalmr, The Helm of Awe, the Nordic Symbol of Strength
The Helm of Awe, also known as the Ægishjálmr, is a Nordic symbol for strength and protection. The symbol is shaped like a circle with eight tridents radiating out from the center to protect it.
In ancient times, the symbol was used to strike fear in the hearts of the enemy. The ancient Vikings would draw the symbol in between their brows with the belief that the symbol would grant them access to the spirit realm where they could harness the powers of their gods.
This was believed to give them the strength to fight and paralyze the enemy with fear by only using their eyes.
Griffin, The Ancient Symbol of Strength
Griffins are depicted with the body of a lion and the head and forelegs of an eagle. In the Celtic culture, a griffin was a symbol of strength and savagery and a fully-matured griffin could never be taken alive.
In heraldry, griffins were associated with boldness, courage, and strength and it was believed this mythical creature was always drawn to monsters. Hence, the griffin was used to denote strength, leadership, intelligence, and military courage.
Griffins were also believed to guard priceless treasures, just like dragons.
Dragon, the Strength Symbol of China and East Asia
The dragon is the most well-regarded creature in many Asian cultures, including Chinese and Japanese ones.
There are many different types of dragons in both these cultures representing different things; primarily, though, the image of a dragon symbolizes strength, good luck, and prosperity, as well as boldness, nobility, self-confidence, and success.
During the days of Imperial China, the emperor would use a dragon emblem as a symbol of his imperial strength and dominance.
According to legends, the Yellow Emperor, the first ruler of China has transformed into an immortal dragon that ascended to heaven after he died.
Horse, a Symbol of Strength in Various Cultures
Since ancient times, the horse has been a symbol of strength, speed, and intelligence. The animal was revered by the Indo-Aryan people and held sacred in ancient Greece as a symbol of strength, status, and wealth.
In China, the horse is the most ubiquitous symbolic animal after the dragon and represents male strength, perseverance, youthful energy, and speed. In earlier Chinese lore, the horse’s strength was believed to be even more potent than a dragon’s.
Similarly, Native American tribes held similar associations with this majestic animal.
Bear, the Native American Symbol of Strength
For Native American tribes, the bear represents strength, health, vitality, courage, and family. It was considered to be independent and not reliant on many things. It also has a strong will and endurance.
Hence, the symbol of the bear was held in high regard in Native American communities as it provided great comfort and strength to those who required personal reassurance and who lived alone for extended periods.
Wolf, the Native American Symbol of Strength
Although the wolf is often associated with certain negative attributes in certain parts of the world, in the New World, this animal was linked with strength, courage, loyalty, intelligence, and hunting success.
Some Native American tribes considered the wolf a strong animal and believed that it created the Earth and was the first creature that experienced death.
According to them, out of all the animals that live on land, the wolf harnesses the strongest mystical powers and is the most gifted hunter.
It is also a social animal and can use its body movement, sound, and touch to communicate.
Pempamsie, the Adinkra Symbol of Strength
One of the most important symbols of the Akan people is the Pempamsie symbol, which is roughly translated to “sew into readiness.” This ancient symbol resembles links of a chain and represents strength through unity.
This can be interpreted as a community of humans is only as strong as their weakest link.
The Pempamsie symbol also stands for steadfastness and hardiness, as well as highlighting the importance of always being prepared for anything.
Tabono, the West African Symbol of Strength
Tabono is an Adinkra symbol that is shaped like four joined paddles or oars. This is another very famous symbol of the West African people that stands for strength, hard work, and persistence.
In the context of Tabono, strength does not mean physical power, but rather a person’s willpower and emotional fortitude.
The symbol means that one can only hope to get great success if they have a strong will, work hard, and are willing to sacrifice.
B’alam, the Mayan and Mesoamerican Symbol of Strength
The word ‘B’alam’ was used to describe a jaguar in Mayan culture. The Mayans believed that the animal was the personification of the god of the underworld and controlled the celestial forces of night and day.
Representing ferocity, divinity, confidence, and leadership, the jaguar was the ultimate sacred symbol of strength in Mesoamerican cultures.
During the later periods of Mayan history, many of the monarchs held the name B’alam, as the jaguar came to represent royalty as well.
On a side note, the animal was known to represent strength among the Aztec tribes, too.
Tiger, the Chinese Symbol of Strength
Finally, we are concluding our list of symbols of strength and perseverance with another symbol from Asia. Being an ancient Chinese symbol, the tiger represents strength, bravery, courage, and valor. By itself, the tiger also embodies the Yin energy. In addition to that, the animal is considered to be a symbol of protection.
The image of a tiger in homes or on clothing is said to ward off evil influence and ensure safety. The ancient Chinese believed that they could harness these powers in their lives by invoking the tiger.