Thassos white marble paperweight. The meander has been the oldest Greek symbol of victory, unity and eternal life. It was used during the Geometric Period (1050 BC) mainly in the decoration of temples and vessels but also as a seal.
It is believed that the meander is inspired by the numerous curves of the Meander River, which has a total length of over 500 kilometers. It was one of the most historic symbols of the Greek world and was also named “the Greek Key”, as it indicates the Greek origin of all things that carry it on them. As a symbol it has been used mainly in decoration, but in fact it is a Greek seal, as most Ancient Greek objects bear the design of the meander. It was born during the Prehistoric Age, but was revived once again during the Geometric Period.
The meander is found in the Acropolis but also in the Byzantine Culture, and yet in many tombs in Asia Minor -amongst them the tomb of King Midas of Phrygia- and in vessels of the Geometric Period; where the symbol of the meander seems to be a development of the continuous spiral of the Mycenaean Era. In addition to those, in the mythical choice of Hercules, the difficult path of Virtue had a meandering shape (in contrast to the Evil one, which was a straight line), with the meanders symbolizing the structured difficulties of life that the humans are called to overcome, sharpening their spirit in order to reach the ideal state of mind.
Last but not least, the temples were adorned with meanders, usually coloured ones, as were the beams, the edges, the roof panels and columns, as well as the garments' fringes. A sophisticated example of a meander showcased on clothes is provided by the Korai of the Acropolis.
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