Curious Symbolism

Detail of a jewel of pomegranate, in the hand of a statue of Jesus as child, Granada, Spain - photo by Jebulon
"Picnic en Combray" de Helena Perez Garcia
“Picnic en Combray” de Helena Perez Garcia

Impossible to view the inclusion of pomegranates in paintings without an eye out for its highly muddled symbolism of fertility, abundance, contraception and loss of fecundity, death and resurrection – via various casually googled sources.

– The pomegranate is the symbol of Armenia and represents fertility, abundance and marriage. For example, the fruit played an integral role in a wedding custom widely practiced in ancient Armenia: a bride was given a pomegranate fruit, which she threw against a wall, breaking it into pieces. Scattered pomegranate seeds ensured the bride future children.

– Modern testing has shown that pomegranate does have contraceptive effects. However the effectiveness has varied between species, in two studies sited pomegranate reduced fertility in female rats by 50% and in female guinea pigs by an impressive 100%. This does not mean that pomegranate will have the same effect in women, but the possibility for a reduction in fertility defiantly exists. Both animal types regained their fertility forty days after they stopped receiving pomegranate.

– Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition

– Animal studies have shown that pomegranate may be an effective abortifacient.

– It is traditional to consume pomegranates on Rosh Hashana because, with its numerous seeds, it symbolizes fruitfulness

– The ancient forefathers of medicine, Hippocrates, Soranus, Dioscorides, to name a few, prescribed the seeds and rind of the pomegranate to prevent conception.

– The mythology of ancient Greece regarded this fruit as the symbol of life, marriage and rebirth in the abduction story of Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld.

– In Ancient Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the “fruit of the dead”, and believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis

– The fruit, broken or bursting open, is a symbol of the fullness of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection.

– Some Jewish scholars believe that it was the pomegranate, not the apple, that was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden

– In some Hindu traditions, the pomegranate (Hindi: anār) symbolizes prosperity and fertility, and is associated with both Bhoomidevi (the earth goddess) and Lord Ganesha (the one fond of the many-seeded fruit).

– The Tamil name maadulampazham is a metaphor for a woman’s mind. It is derived from, maadhu=woman, ullam=mind, which means as the seeds are hidden, it is not easy to decipher a woman’s mind.

Published by Janine Shroff

Designer & Illustrator based in London. I specialise in UI/UX, branding, hand-drawn illustration & painting.

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