The heart symbol is recognised in the world as a sign of love and affection, and its historical origin is difficult to pin down. Some believe that this iconic ideograph is derived from the shape of ivy leaves which are associated with loyalty. While others link the form of a heart to be modelled after the parts of human anatomy such as breasts, buttocks or other parts. Perhaps this all, the most unfamiliar theory revolves around Silphium, a species of plant that grew on the North African coastline nearby Greek zones. The ancient Greeks and Romans used Silphium both as a food flavouring and medicine as a cough syrup. But it was most famous as an early form of birth control in ancient Egypt.
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Concepts behind heart symbol
Ancient writers and poets addressed this plant for its protective powers. Later on, it became so popular that it was declared an extinct species by the first century A.D. Silphium’s seedpod had a resemblance with the modern Valentine’s heart. Hence people think that it helped to popularise the symbol. The ancient city of Cyrene where Silphium was grown, became so popular with the trade of Silphium that they put a heart on their currency notes!!
The first known depiction of heart was done in the French manuscript Roman de la Poire, in that miniature, a kneeling lover offers his heart to a damsel (image below). The shape of which resembles with a pine cone. In 1305, Giotto in his painting Scrovegni Chapel (Padua) showed a fable of charity handing her heart to Christ. This heart is also depicted in the shape of pine cone based on anatomical descriptions. These influences the other painters to use the symbol of a heart in their paintings and then it became popular among artists, writers, and poets of that time.
Symbol of Heart as Patent of Love
Some thought that it is solely based on the anatomical structure of human heart as described by philosopher Aristotle, three chambers with depression or small dent in the middle. It may be as simple as that! It grew popular during the period of Renaissance. Then, it was used in religious art depicting the Sacred Heart of Christ and as one of the four suits in playing cards. Meanwhile, by the 18th and 19th centuries, it had become a symbol of love and care in love notes and Valentine’s Day cards.
Now, this symbol has become patent for love, affection, and care. The real history is not confirmed but above are the pieces of evidence and examples from where it can be thought that it might originate