SACRED SIGNS MINI-ASSIGNMENT



Purpose And Procedure

Probably all religions make at least some use of sacred signs.  This is not surprising.  Symbols are perhaps an inherent part of the collective rituals that are a component part of faith systems.  Moreover, religion often involve deep matters that cannot easily be addressed in words alone.  This small assignment asks you to research the history and meaning of selected sacred symbols.

1)  Pick at least three of the symbols listed below (you can also substitute or add on your own choices).  This is designed as a small project and it will be possible to excel at it by offering particularly insightful analyses of three symbols.  Students are encouraged, however, to write about more than three symbols if they so choose.

2)  Research the history of each symbol.  Here are some questions you may want to consider:

What role does this sacred symbol play in one or more of the world's religions?

What is the history of the symbol?  How do you explain its origins?  How and why did its iconographic representation and meaning change over time?

If the symbol has meaning in more than one religion, how would you compare and contrast these?  Is there evidence of direct influence between the religions or does instead the symbol seem to have a certain archetypal quality?

3)  For each symbol, include at least one picture and at least one paragraph of description/analysis.  For very general symbols, such as the sun, you can choose either to write about the symbol in a broad comparative context or to limit your discussion to one or more specific religions.  I recommend a tightly focused write-up of between one and two pages per symbol.

4)  Add a "CONCLUDING THOUGHTS" paragraph or two at the end of your "guidebook."

5)  Formal references are not required for this exercise, though I expect all the work included to be in your own words.  Please include an informal bibliography with this project of important URLs consulted.

6)  Put together a small Powerpoint that complements your mini-essay.  This should combine both images and text and can draw from your written work.  It should feature one, two, or all three of your symbols.  A number of the Powerpoints will be shared with the class as a whole.


Possible Symbols

Anchor

Ankh

Apple

Ark

Ark of the Covenant

Arrow

Ashes

Axis Mundi

Bathing

Bees

Bells

Bindi

Blindness

Blood

Bones

Bread

Brit Milah

Bull

Caduceus

Candelabra

Caves

Chains

Chariot

Cherry

Chrysanthemum

Circle

Conch Shell

Cornucopia

Cow

Cross

Crown

Crucifix

Cube

Deer

Donkey

Dove

Drum

Eagle

Elephant

Eucharist

Egg

Eye

Feather

Fig

Fire

Fish

Five, The Number

Footprint

Forest

Four, The Number

Fox

Frog

Ganges

Garden

Gates

Goat

Gold

Grain

Grapevine

Green

Hair

Halo

Hand

Heart

Hermit

Honey

Horse

Incense

Jade

Key

Khanda

Knife

Knot

Lamp

Ladder

Lamb

Light

Lily

Linga

Lion

Lotus

Mandala

Mandrake

Mezuzah

Moon

Mountain

Mouse

Mudra

Nine, The Number

Olive

Om

Oven

Owl

Palm Tree

Parasol

Peacock

Pearl

Pelican

Pentagram

Pig

Pillars

Poppy

Raft

Rainbow

Ram

Raven

Ring

Rivers

Rocks

Rooster

Rosary/Prayer Beads

Rose

Sabbath

Sacred Thread

Salt

Scales

Sceptre

Seven, The Number

Shepherd

Shofar

Sickle

Skeleton

Snake

Star and Crescent

Star of David

Stars

Stairway

Stupa

Sun

Swan

Sword

Tefellin

Tetragrammaton

Throne

Tiger

Tongue

Torch

Torii

Tree of Life

Triangle

Trident

Trumpet

Turban

Twins

Veil

Watchtower

Water

Wells

Whale

Wheel

Wine

Wings

Yantra

Yin and Yang

Yoni


 

 

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