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Look for the Symbols in the Sculpture

What is a symbol?

A symbol is an object or a picture that stands for an idea. Love, power, and anger are all ideas that we sometimes think of in terms of symbols. For example, a heart can stand for love, a lion or a sword can represent power, and the color red or a frowning face can symbolize anger. Many artists use symbols in their work.

To find and identify some symbols, click on one of the images below.

Fudô Myô-ô
, 12th century
Japanese; late Heian period
Wood with color and gold leaf; 80 x 30 in. (203.2 x 76.2 cm)
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris, Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and The Annenberg Fund, Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.268.163)

Mother and Child
, 15th–20th century
Mali; Bamana peoples
Wood: H. 48 3/8 in. (123.5 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection,
Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeler, 1979 (1979.206.121)

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