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August 22, 2007

The strength of symbolism

The use of symbols and icons on websites (and other interfaces) is widespread. The use of broader symbolism, however, is not very common these days. That symbols can be very powerful is a historical fact and they can be found in the groundplans and shapes of buildings, in flags and shields and even whole city plans.

A symbol done right, can make it iconic. An example of symbolic buildings in the making are the CCTV and the Television Cultural Center towers in Beijing. Although a lot of symbolism is already associated with this building, it being called by its designers 'a canopy that embraces the entire population', I noticed a resemblance with the Chinese character for 'central':

Learn Chinese Characters-1
and the buildings when they are aligned:



China is actually called Zhongguo in Mandarin Chinese. The first character zhōng (中) meaning "central" or "middle," while guó (国 or 國) means "state". The term can be literally translated into English as "Central Country or Central Kingdom, the less accurate translations are "Middle Country" and "Middle Kingdom" (from 'Names of China' on Wikipedia).

Posted by Almar at August 22, 2007 10:40 AM