Symbolism Sunday, The Arrow and Quiver

January 9, 2011

Arrow and Quiver in Sentimental Pendant 18th Century

It’s often the symbols which resonate with us today that mean the most; the symbols which we intrinsically understand for the same reasons why they were understood several hundred years ago. What keeps this kind of thought mainstream and in the popular mindset? Often, it’s the reinterpretation of the symbol throughout the ages and its ability to adapt to different forms of art, other times it simply reflects how Western culture has developed from the same roots.

The arrow and quiver, when associated with love is no different, out of context, there is the warlike nature of the symbol and its use associated with conflict. This is often the use of the symbol itself, being a weapon of ancient characteristics, even involved with primitive hunting. However, when you put the arrows and quivers in the same breath as ‘love’ and ‘sentimentality’, then you have a different perspective. Who is most commonly associated with this motif?

Cupid in Victorian Bangle

Why, Eros or Cupid, of course, who has been reinterpreted through the ages, particularly in the 19th century, as the instigator of love, shooting his golden arrow to the heart and inspiring love (though I’ll refrain from focusing on his other lead arrow which inspires hatred).

For Neoclassical depictions, the arrows and quivers can be seen in various depictions, often a secondary symbol to a primary motif. Note how the love birds are sitting on top of the quiver in the first example; this is a good depiction of various symbols working in tandem to provide a unified symbolic message.

You may even find the arrow broken, which depicts the life cut short, but often it’s the interpretation of this surrounded by other symbols that helps influence its meaning.

Arrow Victorian Brooch

The arrow is also found quite prolifically through 19th century jewellery in brooches, pins, pendants and in various materials (being conducive for both gold and silver). Its love sentiment is is till understood today, so many of these styles are still in production.

It’s Sunday, what are you doing reading about old jewellery? There’s a beautiful world right outside your door, so go enjoy it and come back soon!

Brooch and Bracelet Courtesy: Things Gone By

Previously on Symbolism Sunday:

The Knot

The Grape

The Daisy

The Oak

The Acanthus

Revisiting The Trumpet

The Harp


The Acorn

The Trumpet

The Male

The Woman

The Three Graces

Faith, Hope and Charity

The Clover

The Willow

The Column

The Hourglass

The Serpent

The Dove

The Dog

The Angel

The Marigold / Lily

18 Responses to “Symbolism Sunday, The Arrow and Quiver”

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