The study of a symbolic form and its meanings in various cultures can shed light on common ideas, even when there is no contact between the cultures. The serpent is a form that has meaning in many cultures, where it often relates to the same concept. A form often related to water because its movement is similar to the path of a river. Thus it was often used in conjunction with the mother earth goddess as a necessary companion for the fertility of the land and the sustaining of life. Greeks depicted the offspring of Gaia with legs of serpents. Egyptians depicted the life giving Nile as a cobra as did the Hindus depict the Ganges. The Judeo/Christian religions turned it into a demon because of its association with the earth goddess and as Christianity moved into northern Europe is blended with the demon dragon of the Nordic religion. The Dogon of Mali see the serpent as the pure spirit form, relating the concept of life force. The Mende of Sierra Leone used it as a symbol of the river on masks, which they believed were given to the women by the river spirit.
|Keywords:||Symbolic Forms, Cultural Understanding, Similarity of Concepts Cross-Culturally, Serpent, Mother Earth|
Professor, Art Department, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA
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