Happy Valentine’s Day: #TBT – The History of the Heart Shape
The heart is traditionally drawn in this shape with a red color.
The color of hearts is generally red colored. Red traditionally represents passion and strong emotions in many cultures.
From what we could determine, there are three main theories as to where the heart shape originated. None of the three are proven, but all present interesting points:
1. Modeled after an actual heart.
This theory is actually a pretty well known one. The theory says that the modern drawing of a heart is actually modeled after the actual human heart because the ancients, including Aristotle, and even some today, believe that the heart contains all human passions. However, the traditional heart shape as drawn has very little resemblance to an actual human heart. The drawing more closely matches that of a cattle heart, which was more readily available in sight in past centuries, meaning they modeled it after a cattle heart. However, the resemblance to the cattle heart is still very slight. It’s also said that the drawing of a modern heart possibly originated because of botched drawings of the human heart by medieval artists after a philosopher inaccurately described the shape. The medieval tradition of courtly love may have reinforced the shape’s association with romance. Hearts can be found on playing cards, tapestries, and paintings.
3. Derived from a seed.
- A last theory is that the traditional heart came was derived from the plant seed of the Silphium plant. This now extinct (for over two millennia) North African plant was found in the ancient city of Cyrene during the seventh century BC. The plant was most commonly used as seasonings, but was also widely used as a contraceptive in ancient Egypt. Because of it’s importance to their economy, they depicted the shape of the seed on their coins. The seeds were distinctly heart-shaped. It is said that because of the use of the plant as a contraceptive, the shape of the seeds became associated with sexuality and eventually with romantic love.