November 22 2020
The Gothic subculture is inspired by the dark aesthetic of medieval romance, Gothic music, and movies. The Goths, aka people dressed in black, worship death, nocturnal creatures, and otherworldly spirits. The subculture was born in the late 1970s in the wake of the post-punk movement. The Goths took the punks' desire to shock and outrage, added a lot of vampire aesthetic and dark outlook, and thus shaped their own heritage. You can trace their philosophy and perspectives through their iconic wardrobe and jewelry. We have already created an article on gothic fashion; you can take a lot here. Today we would like to dive into the world of gothic jewelry.
Types and strengths of gothic jewelry
For the most part, Goths rock jewelry with distinctive symbolism made from white metals. The most used material for making Gothic jewelry is silver.
Goths, as we have already noted, worship the forces of the night and often call themselves children of the night. Therefore, they gravitate towards anything reminiscent of darkness - pallor, dark skies, cold moonlight, etc. Silver, being the lunar metal, reflects the aesthetics of this subculture in the most complete way. Gold and any other yellow metal is not acceptable to Goths as it is associated with sun and daylight.
Gothic jewelry can also be made from all kinds of "silver substitutes" such as nickel silver, steel, etc. The main thing is that the metal is white or silver shades.
When building Gothic jewelry, craftsmen often inlay parts with semi-precious stones, especially garnets, rubies, agates, onyx, etc. The Goths do not attach much importance to the symbolism of stones and precious stones. The only thing that matters is what these stones will look like when framed in silver metal. Therefore, they are fond of bright but cool colors such as bright green, purple and blue. Red, despite being a warm hue, is probably the main accent color in Gothic because it looks like blood (and this is important given the close connection between Gothic and vampirism).
Paradoxically, gothic feminine jewelry is often embellished with white pearls. One such choice is explained by the fact that Gothic originated in the Middle Ages when women wore elaborate and sophisticated necklaces and tiaras, often inlaid with pearls. Some Gothic styles, such as ancient or romantic Gothic, lean towards this romantic and feminine side of Gothic.
Since the punk subculture has primarily affected modern Gothic, Goths often complement their appearance with a piercing. This tendency is particularly pronounced among followers of Cyber Gothic, Vampire Goths and Steampunk Goths.
Goths adorn their fingers with different kinds of rings. There is no unique design for this jewel. Gothic rings can be regular shapes, knuckle rings, full rings covering almost the entire finger, or claw rings. They are distinguished from traditional rings by Gothic motifs and eye-catching design.
Gothic bracelets can come in all shapes and sizes, from thin and delicate leather bracelets to massive silver chains and spiked bracelets. The appearance and design largely depend on the specific type of Gothic. While ancient Goths feature elegant and elaborate openwork bracelets, Fetish Goths turn to BDSM themes with cuff bracelets and wide leather straps studded with spikes.
Gothic women adorn their heads with different tiaras. Sometimes lovers of tribal gothic rock headdresses made of feathers or plants that look a bit like shaman's headdresses.
Neck jewelry is common among Gothesses and male Goths. From a design point of view, these products differ depending on the specific style of Gothic. Basically, Gothic necklaces are silver chains and black leather bracelets or their combinations complemented by Gothic themed pendants.
Symbolism in Gothic jewelry
The symbol system in the Gothic subculture is eclectic. This system includes the ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Christian components, as well as some Satanic symbols. The following brief overview of Gothic symbols will help you understand this mysterious subculture.
Mystical gothic symbols
The most Gothic symbol is the Egyptian Ankh. One can only guess how the ancient Egyptian symbol of justice turned into the Gothic sign of “infinity and immortality”. One of the popular versions explains this transformation by the influence of vampire films, mainly, The Hunger. In this film, the Egyptian ankh was presented as a sign of vampire immortality.
The Ankh is known as the Egyptian cross. It looks like a cross with a loop. Its form can be interpreted as the rising sun, as the unity of opposites, as masculine and feminine. Ankh symbolizes the marriage of Osiris and Isis, the union of earth and sky. This sign has often become an element of hieroglyphics. For example, it was part of the words “well-being” and “happiness”. The symbol engraved on the amulets to prolong life in this world. There was also a tradition of putting on an ornate Ankh amulet during the funeral ceremony. It guaranteed life in the next world. The key that opened the door of death was shaped like an ankh.
In addition to this, ancient Egypt wore charms with the image of ankh to promote fertility. Along with this, ankh was a magical symbol of wisdom. It can be found in many images of Egyptian deities and clergymen. Later, ankh was used by witches for fortune telling and healing.
People believed that this symbol could save from flooding; it was therefore drawn on the walls of the canal. Another association of ankh with water can be seen in the anchor images. Indeed, with a circle at the top and in the shape of a cross, an anchor looks like ankh.
Gothic is firmly linked to religion and the church; more precisely, with the idea of a "little man". The Lord is great, while a man is but a grain of sand.
The aim of medieval Gothic was to suppress a person. That is why Gothic architects erected magnificent and formidable temples and churches. These great buildings overwhelmed the congregation with their power and weight. The Christian tradition of suppressing a person with divine attributes took root in modern Gothic, albeit in a different, more tragic way.
Although the Gothic subculture uses various crosses (Latin, Greek, Maltese, etc., read more about the different types of cross in this article), the most common cross to see in their jewelry is the Celtic cross. He has equally long arms and a circle in the middle. It is considered the symbol of Celtic Christianity, although it has more ancient pagan roots.
Sometimes a Celtic cross is called a solar cross. It symbolizes the sun, air, earth and water in unity. The cross appeared in Ireland around the XNUMXth century. There is a popular myth that the Celtic cross became known thanks to Saint Patrick, the missionary who converted Ireland to Christianity. According to this belief, the Celtic cross merged a cross, the symbol of Christianity, and a circle, the symbol of the sun, to give people converted to Christianity the idea of the importance of the cross by connecting it with the symbol of a pagan sun. deity.
According to another interpretation, the circle is the so-called “Sun of Faith” - the unquenchable light of faith in God. In addition, the circle also refers directly to the Lord because, as Scripture teaches, God is the sun.
An interesting significance has the Neuron Cross. Its most common name is a peace sign. In its original meaning, it meant the overturned and broken crucifix. It symbolized hatred and contempt for Christianity. Many people wear this symbol without even knowing what it really means.
Romantic gothic symbols
Eye of Ra
The Eye of Ra is another ancient symbol taken from ancient Egypt but with a completely different meaning in Gothic. While for the Egyptians Eye of Ra symbolized the Sun god i.e.Ra himself, the Goths reversed its meaning by turning it into a signifier of sadness and gloom.
Eye of Ra is also known as Uadjet or Wadjet. It points to the left falcon eye of the god Horus. The god lost his left eye in the battle with Seth. The right eye of Horus is associated with the sun and the sun god Ra, while the left eye represents the moon and the moon god Aah. This eye, cured by the god Toth, has become a powerful amulet worn by many Egyptians, both pharaohs and common people. He personified various aspects of the divine world, from royal power to fertility.
No one knows for sure, but most likely the Goths turned to Uadjet due to his connection to the Moon. Another version says that the outer corner of Ra's eye with a curved extension caught the attention of the Gothesses. They started to emulate this Egyptian-inspired look in their makeup. This, Eye of Ra took hold in Gothic culture.
Heart and dagger
Gothic, associated with the dark sides of human existence, is often expressed through pain and suffering. Some admirers of this subculture, such as fetish Goths, revere physical pain, while romantic Goths understand each other through mental agony. One of the symbols of romantic but tragic love that hurts the soul is a dagger that pierces a heart. It means a betrayal of the loved one, a betrayal, as well as a mortal wound caused by the love betrayed. In rare cases, such an image also has a feeling of cruelty and revenge.
In Christianity, a heart pierced with a dagger is a popular Catholic version of the Sacred Heart of Mary. It represents the mother of Christ in mourning, who is often called the Mother of God (“The sword must pierce your soul,” Simeon told him in the temple).
In fact, the symbol of a heart and a dagger has migrated to other religions and cults, for example voodoo. There he embodies Erzulie Dantor, a spirit of vengeance and cruelty, which in many ways is opposed to Mary.
The real power of the Dagger and the Heart lies in the combination of the two symbols, each with its own unique meaning. The heart is the source of emotions and the very essence of a human. In ancient times, it played an important role in the fate of a soul in the afterlife. Nowadays, the heart is associated with love and romantic feelings.
At the same time, the dagger is more than just a weapon. It is easy to hide; hence, he became a hidden weapon of the assassins. Thus, a dagger causes more damage than a stab. It brings a feeling of betrayal and resentment since an assassin has to get very close to his victim.
Symbols of death
Satanic symbolism has strong links with Gothic, although it is not always found among the followers of Gothic. The best-known Gothic symbols of death are skulls, coffins, grim reaper, etc. Other popular motifs are those attributed to mystical creatures and evil spirits such as mice, rats, bats, etc. Such symbolism is a direct influence of the punks, who introduced death-themed accessories into Gothic fashion. The aesthetic of vampires also left an imprint on Gothic symbolism.
The most important satanic sign is a pentagram. The right pentagram is a five-pointed star inside a circle with the tip up. Its shape resembles a person with spread eagles. This symbol is often used in white magic. An inverted pentagram differs from a straight line because it is pointed downward. This pentagram, just like the inverted cross, is used by Satanists. Goths wear upright and inverted crosses and pentagrams, depending on their beliefs and personal tastes
The human skull is a symbol of death.
As with death itself, the attitude towards the skull varies among nations and cultures.
In Catholic, the skull and bones are not only a symbol of death, but they also signify humility. This sign is closely associated with hermits. By wearing the skull symbol, the hermit showed that he had resigned himself. He is ready for death to come after him whenever it happens. He despises everything that belongs to the earthly, including his own body. Many superstitions of medieval Europe are associated with hermits and their dark robes. In particular, it was believed that hermits, appearing in towns and villages, provoke epidemics and wars. Therefore, seeing a hermit, people fled in horror.
The skull was used by medieval philosophers as a symbol of the deposit of human wisdom. When it was established that a skull contains the brain, researchers created numerous medical and philosophical treatises on the mind and its connection to the body. The skull is also a philosophical symbol of the afterlife.
In ancient times, and even less today, the skull associated with witchcraft and black magic. The skull denoted a human sacrifice to cause the death of the enemy. In this context, it was believed that all dark wizards and witches should have human skulls and bones in their arsenal.
In the modern interpretation of Gothic, the skull symbolizes one of the basic principles, memento mori, that is, remembering death. People should live as if today is the last day of their life.
Gothic worships the forces of evil and supernatural spirits. The Goths personify these otherworldly forces through images of various animals such as bats, snakes, dragons, cats, etc.
The most mysterious creature that Gothic idolizes is the dragon. To unravel the meaning of this symbol, we must turn to medieval alchemy. This ancient science is based on the great law of the unity of matter. The whole universe comes from the same matter and comes back to the same matter. The material is uniform but it takes different forms by combining with itself and producing an infinite number of new creations. This Primary Matter, which existed before the elements, was also called Chaos, the cause, the world substance, and was denoted by the oldest alchemical symbol - the dragon or the serpent biting its tail. He received the name of Ouroboros ("tail eater"). The image of the ouroboros was accompanied by the words “All in one” or “One in all”.
The dragon is the spirit of change and therefore the spirit of life itself. Initially, this symbol had a positive meaning of the life-bearing waters. In the Middle Ages, to represent a dragon, people took different body parts from seven animals. The image of the dragon brought together four elements.
One of the most common mythological scenes is the battle with a dragon. A hero, thanks to his courage, defeats the dragon and seizes his treasure or frees a captured princess. This story tells about the duality of human nature, the internal conflict between light and dark, and the power of the subconscious, which can be used to achieve both constructive and destructive goals. The battle with the dragon symbolizes the difficulties that a person must overcome in order to acquire inner knowledge, overcome his dark nature, and achieve self-control. Only by killing a dragon can a person bring true light and salvation to the world.
Originally, Gothic ornament was found in painting, stone and woodcarving, as well as elements of medieval architecture. They presented a deep symbolism associated above all with Christian culture.
The geometric ornaments of the Gothic, unlike in Antiquity, mainly used curvilinear shapes. Such an ornament received the name Masswerk (from the German mass - "measure" and werk - "work"). Masswerk is a decorative frame ornament based on an intricate interweaving of straight and convex lines. This technique takes various forms, for example the popular flamboyant and radiant.
The main motifs of the floral ornament are grapes, oak, ivy, burdock, clover, roses, lilies and ferns. The double leaf and clover themes were especially widely used. These heraldic symbols are most likely borrowed from the Druids.
The clover is a triangle made up of three arcs. It is a Christian symbol of the Holy Trinity. Sometimes it can look like a triangle inside a circle or vice versa, like a circle inside a triangle. For the ancient Celts, it symbolized the unity of the real world with the spirit world. It meant birth, death and new rebirth, thus linking all stages of the life cycle. According to legends, Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland, used the shamrock as an example of the trinity: the Lord, Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Gothic ornaments often carry the image of quadrifolia (four-petal pattern) and, of course, the Gothic rose, which is a circle with a stylized flower inside. You can often see so-called Gothic crosses ("Fleuree"). They look like a cross whose arms expand like flower petals. This sign symbolizes a mature Christian person.
The most popular Gothic floral design is the fleur-de-lis, also known as the heraldic lily (although there is a version that this flower is the iris). The fleur-de-lis is a symbol of royal power. The Gothic style represents it with sharp, elongated, distinguished contours.
In French, "fleur de lys" means the flower of the lily. Since the XNUMXth century, Louis VII has worn this symbol on his shield. According to historians, "Lys" means Louis. They also point out that the lily personified the Holy Trinity and Mary the Virgin. In any case, it was a symbol of divine power and the blessing of kings.
Other Gothic ornaments with floral designs include stylized thorny plants such as thistle and blackthorn. They denoted spiritual trials or, more precisely, the torments of Christ.
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