An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols

Paperback / softback

Main Details

Title An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols
Authors and Contributors      By (author)   J. C. Cooper
Physical Properties
Format:Paperback / softback
Dimensions(mm): Height 241,Width 159
CategoriesArt and design styles - c 1800 to c 1900
ISBN 9780500271254
Illustrations 210 Illustrations, black and white

Publishing Details

Publisher Thames & Hudson Ltd
Imprint Thames & Hudson Ltd
Publication Date 3 September 1979
NZ Release Date 3 September 1979
Publication Country United Kingdom


People all over the world have always used symbols to express and communicate the things that mean most to them. From a country's flag, which can signify more than patriotism, to a charm bracelet, with its 'portable memories', symbolism takes various forms. Familiarity with symbolism opens up levels of understanding most of us have probably never been aware of. Why, for instance, do we share a secret with the words 'a little bird told me'? What is it about a horseshoe that, in the right circumstances, brings luck? Why a horse's shoe? How old is the swastika, and where has it been used as a symbol (and what was Jung getting at when he said the Nazi's used it 'backwards')? In nearly 1500 entries, many of them strikingly and often surprisingly illustrated, J.C. Cooper has documented the history and evolution of symbols from prehistory to our own day. Lively, informative and often ironic, she discusses and explains an enormous variety of symbols extending from the Arctic to Dahomey, from the Iroquios to Oceania, and coming from systems as diverse as Tao, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Tantra, the cult of Cybele and the Great Goddess, the Pre-Columbian religions of the Western Hemisphere and the Voodoo cults of Brazil and West Africa.

Author Biography

Jean C. Cooper (1905-1999) was born in China where she spent much of her childhood. Informed by the perspective of the Perennial Philosophy, she wrote and lectured extensively on the subjects of philosophy, comparative religion, and symbolism.


'Entries are succinct, erudite and cover many cultures' - Financial Times