Where does the symbol of peace come from?

Where does the symbol of peace come from?


A longing, several symbols.

For the Polish writer, psychologist, philosopher and linguist Alfred Korzybski, “the achievements of man rest on the use of symbols”.

And peace has inspired several of them for centuries.

But the one that came to be known as the symbol of peace was designed in 1958 by the British artist Gerald Holtom.

Peace symbol
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES image

He designed it for protests against research on atomic weapons in the United Kingdom.

The symbol combines the semaphore letters N and D alphabet .

Signs in semaphore alphabet for N and D
Image caption Nuclear Disarmament or, in Spanish, Nuclear Disarmament.

Holtom wanted the symbol to be the other way around, because he thought it looked more hopeful .

Symbol of peace upside down
Image caption Mmm … what do you think?

But, as we know it now, the symbol quickly began to be recognized.

In the United States, it was introduced by the pacifist Bayard Rustin, a friend of Martin Luther King Jr.

It was widely used by opponents of the Vietnam War in the 1960s … and became fashionable among hippies.

It also adorned the legendary original pyramid stage of the Glastonbury Music Festival, a festival in which in 2017 more than 15,000 people formed the greatest symbol of human peace in the world .

The symbol of peace made by and with people in Glastonbury.
Image captionThe symbol of peace made by and with people in Glastonbury.

It is one of the most recognizable graphic icons and, since it is not protected by copyright, everyone can use it .

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