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Red HeartHistory of the Heart Shape

The Heart Shape is perhaps the most universal and most meaningful symbol of all iconic images.

The heart symbol’s use can be traced all the way back to the last Ice Age, 10,000 to 8000 BC. Although wall paintings and carvings reveal that Cro-Magnon hunters used the symbol in pictograms, it remains a mystery what meaning it held for those living during the time.

Historians presume that the use of the heart shape to represent love began in the Middle Ages, inspired by the shape of a common plant called silphium whose seed pod bore the shape. Silphium is a relative of the fennel seed and in medieval times it was consumed as an early form of birth control. The image of the seed is depicted on coins from the period.

Silphium Heart Silphium depicted on a coin

Widespread dissemination, especially in art, began in the 1400s with Renaissance painters. Additionally there were many depictions of a winged Cupid, the cherub or boy conjuring up love with his bow and arrow by shooting the victim through the heart, the very center of emotion and passion.

Cupid Cupid with his bow and arrow

The heart shape continues to be one of the most endearing and most familiar symbols the world over.




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