Sampler Legend

In the history of samplers, motifs were often used to symbolize specific things.  Here you will find a list of motifs and what they typically symbolized.  If there is a specific culture affiliated with a certain image, that will also be indicated.

  • ACORNS:  Fertility, life
  • ANCHOR:  Hope (European circa 1900)
  • ARROW:  The most important tool of the Shaman (Huichol)
  • ANGEL:  Messenger of God
  • BASKET OF FLOWERS:  Friendship and love
  • BEES:  Hope
  • BIRDS:  Spirits of the air, symbol of the soul; freedom (Huichol)
  • BIRD PAIRS (Japanese):   Phoenix–Ruler and subject;   Mandarin ducks (who mate for life)–Love;  Cranes–Father and son;  Wagtail pigeons–Elder and younger brothers
  • BUTTERFLY:  Resurrection, new beginnings; good luck (Huichol)
  • CANDLE:  Offering to deity (Huichol)
  • CARNATIONS:  Representative of flowers that sprang from Mary’s tears at Jesus’ plight (Christian)
  • CEDAR TREE:  Freedom or paradise (Iran)
  • CHERRY TREE BRANCH:  Fertility, wealth, health, and happiness
  • CHURCH:  God’s presence on Earth
  • CIRCLE:  Infinity (Islam)
  • COCK:  Jesus, the Christ, who compared himself to a mother hen when speaking of Jerusalem (Christian)
  • CORN:  Health and prosperity (Huichol)
  • CROCODILE:  Transportation of evil spirits (Kuna)
  • CROSS:   Faith  (European)
  • CROWN:  Monarchy (British), eternity (German), sovereignty-divine and earthly, hope (European circa 1900),faith (European circa 1900)
  • DEER:  Messenger of the Gods (Huichol)
  • DOG:  Vigilance and loyalty (European circa 1900)
  • DOVE:  The Holy Spirit (Christian), simplicity, purity
  • EAGLE:  American national emblem, Contemplative thought (Mayan)
  • EARTH LORD:  Protection (Mayan)
  • ECLIPSE:  Union between man and woman (Huichol)
  • EYE OF GOD:  Protection of children (Huichol)
  • FAN:  Romance, flirtation
  • FLAME:  Love (European circa 1900)
  • FLOWER & BUD:  Mother and child
  • GRAPE VINE:  Blessing and fertility
  • HEART:  Love (European)
  • HEXAGON:  Heaven (Islam)
  • HONEYSUCKLE:  Enduring faith
  • HOURGLASS:  Time passing
  • HOUSE:  Home, school
  • IGUANA:  Adviser of future, eyes of spirit (Huichol)
  • JAGUAR:  Strength, divinity, and domain over all things (Mayan), symbol of power, guardian of sacred spaces (Kuna)
  • LILY:  Purity, chastity, innocence
  • LION:  Strength, hope, courage, steadfastness
  • MOON:  Fertility (Huichol)
  • MOUNTAIN LION:  Messenger of the God of Fire (Huichol)
  • PEYOTE:  Symbol of life and success (looks kind of like a thistle) (Huichol)
  • RED ROSE:  Love (European circa 1900)
  • RIBBONS:  Love, secret love
  • RING:  Union, eternity
  • SALAMANDER:  God of rain (Huichol)
  • SCORPION:  Protector of the peyote (Huichol)
  • SERPENT:  God of the ocean (Huichol),symbol that indicates change, connection between life and death (Kuna)
  • SHAMAN:  Medicine man (Huichol)
  • SQUARE:  The material world or human experience (Islam)
  • SQUIRREL:  Mischief
  • STAR:  Expansion of Islam and its Unity (Islam)
  • STRAWBERRY BLOSSOM:  Purity, foresight
  • SUN:  Power (Huichol)
  • SYMMETRICAL BALANCE IN ITS ART AND ARCHITECTURE:  Cosmic Equilibrium (Islam)
  • THISTLE:  Scottish royalty or ancestry
  • TREE OF LIFE:  Creation
  • TRIANGLE:  Human consciousness or harmony (Islam)
  • TULIPS:  Flowers that sprang forth from the drops of blood of an unfortunate lover (Persian)
  • TURTLES:  Assistant to the Rain Goddesses women, fertility and eroticism (Kuna)
  • TWO HEADED EAGLE:  Duality of the Gods (Huichol)
  • WOLF:  Knowledge and wisdom (Huichol)
  • WREATH:  Eternity
  • WREATH OF ROSES:  True friendship, true love

Updated:  September 1, 2012

5 thoughts on “Sampler Legend

    • The Yahoo Group called “The Sampler Life” has a really good list, too. A bit different from this one. Together it’s a lot of info! Thanks for reading!

  1. Hi Julie, thanks for visiting my WordPress and commenting.
    I hope you’ve recovered from your fall and damaged leg. It did not look good.

    Maureen

    • Thanks Maureen! I love your site and look at every post even though I don’t always comment.

      The leg continues to mend. It will probably another 6 weeks before the drain areas are completely closed up but the stitches are now out. I’m watching a bruise that’s developed to make sure no thromboses develop. Probably would have been better if I’d broken it as I’ve found that muscles and tendons were also involved, possibly nerves too if the constant burning is any indication.

      Never walk at night without a flashlight no matter how well you know your surroundings!

  2. I’ll remember your flashlight suggestion Julie. I’m happy for you the leg is mending, even if at present it is sore – I hope it’s long before it is back to normal.

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