Meaning of the Symbol of Man
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Symbol of Man. Native American symbols are geometric portrayals of celestial bodies, natural phenomena and animal designs. The Symbol of Man was used in many different forms to illustrate the life of man.
The Man Symbol - Man in the Maze
The Man Symbol is depicted in the Man in the Maze Symbol of Life. This symbol depicts a human figure at the entrance of a maze that is the path of life and the encounters experienced by man during his lifetime. The man symbol of the man at the entrance to the maze represents his birth. The dark center of the symbol represents death and eternal life.
The white path followed by the man in the maze represents his journey and lessons through life. The life lessons of man go through various stages and include:
- Childhood of Man
- Acquiring knowledge and skills
- Man's youth and innocence
- Directions chosen
- Friendship and Integrity
- Observations made by the man
- Gentleness and Beauty
- Love, Harmony and Happiness
- Truth, Strength and Understanding
- Power of creation
- Leadership, Power and Ambition
- The Knowledge and understanding gained by man from experience
- Enlightenment and Wisdom
- Acceptance of change
- Growth and foresight
- Reflection and repentance
- Introspection, to look inside the man
- Acceptance of man's past life and death
- Eternal life
The Man Symbol - Death
The death of a man was represented by the following symbol. Any Native American symbols that were portrayed upside down signified that they had been killed - for additional information refer to the Symbol of Death.
The Man Symbol - Pictograms
The man symbol is featured in most pictograms. A pictogram, also called a pictograph, conveys a story and meaning through pictures that signify and resemble the shapes of physical objects or people. An Ideagram is another form of pictogram which conveys complex ideas, feelings and emotions. A pictogram, such as the one recognised as a man symbol, is a therefore a form of writing which uses drawings to tell a story. The picture below is a pictogram that depicts the migration of man due to the movement of various animals. Animals, such as the buffalo, migrated with the seasonal change. They travelled north of the Black Hills during the summer and south of the Black Hills during the winter. The movement of Native American man coincided with the buffalo migration.
Native American Symbols depicting migration
The Man Symbol - Meaning
There were so many tribes of Native American Indians it is only possible to generalise the most common meaning of the Symbol of Man or pattern. Native Indian symbols are still used as Tattoos and were used for a variety of reasons and depicted on numerous objects such as tepees, totem poles, musical instruments, clothes and War Paint. Indian Tribes also used their own Colors for Symbols and designs depending on the natural resources available to make Native American paint.
Arapahoe Ledger Painting