We all love rings regardless of our gender, age, and social status. Today, this ornament serves as an addition to the wardrobe to emphasize the individuality of its owner. But have you ever thought about what rings mean in different cultures? In today's article, we are talking about what a ring symbolizes.
A bond between two people
According to ancient myths and legends, a ring as a closed circle symbolizes integrity and unity. It has neither beginning nor end; therefore it is often associated with eternity and infinity. Its central opening is the place where heavenly power and divine breath enters our world. A ring symbolizes bond, union or vow. That is why a wedding ring is used to designate the eternal union of two hearts and as a sign of matrimonial fidelity.
Infinity, wrapped around a finger, has long been a symbol of power. This is a sign of belonging to a particular circle. The owner of a ring regarded as the owner of his own universe, which he carried with him. Therefore, it served as an indispensable attribute of sorcerers, priests, and kings. It is known that King Solomon had a magic ring with the help of which he could command angels, demons, all nature elements, and spirits.
The meaning of a ring in the ancient world
In ancient Egypt, a ring as a sign of eternity was represented by cord laid in the form of a circle, which ends are tied in a knot. Often this symbol could be found in the images of the gods. Simple people used nodular amulets in the form of a ring, which were supposed to protect against diseases and other misfortunes.
In China, a circle was considered to be a foundation of the universe. A ring was a symbol of eternity, as well as dignity and power. The whole ring meant the favor of the emperor while a broken or an open ring symbolized his anger towards subordinates. In ancient China, it was customary to send one of these rings to people in exile. If this was a whole ring, then the emperor was determined to restore this man in his status with maintaining of his reputation. If it was an open ring, then it meant that a person was no longer allowed to state affairs.
In Hinduism, the god Siva in the circle of flames makes his cosmic dance, personifying the life cycle of a person, creature, family, planet, and the entire universe. It is a circular dance of nature in the eternal process of creation and destruction. At the same time, the light radiated by the circle of flame symbolized eternal profound wisdom.
For the ancient Greeks and Romans, iron rings denoted authority and respect. They were allowed to be worn only by very renowned people. However, for the priests of Jupiter, the obligatory elements of the apparel were gold rings. Apparently, the bishop rings originated from this custom, which denotes implication in the divine ministry.
In the Greek myth of Prometheus, Hercules, with the permission of Zeus, frees a chained titan, but since then Prometheus had to wear an iron ring with a fragment of a rock. This ring was a sign of obedience to the Thunderer.
Rings in Alchemy
In alchemy, there is a famous symbol of a snake biting its own tail. It is called Ouroboros. Its meaning is related to the idea of time. The course of time is accompanied by destruction, as the past is irretrievably lost, that is, time devours itself. The same as in Hinduism, the serpent is associated with the cycles of human life, nature, and the entire universe. In alchemical manuscripts, there is also an emblem depicting a child, whose hand rests on a skull. A snake wraps around the child forming a ring. Ouroboros encloses two notions of the extreme polarities of the world - a child as a symbol of life and a skull as a symbol of death. Taken as a single whole, this emblem can be interpreted as follows: "In my beginning is my end."