Lascaux Cave Art: The 17,000-Year-Old Paintings Of Paleolithic Age
In the environs of Dordogne, there’s a complex of caves near the Montignac village of southwestern France called Lascaux or La...
Artists, writers and poets have been using symbolism to represent their ideas or express their emotions or state of mind since time immemorial. Symbolism is a way of saying things in an implicit manner rather than being explicit.
In several arts and cultures, different animals and birds have been depicted as a messenger of a good omen or a bad omen. One of the smallest birds ‘hummingbird’ is found to have different symbolism in different contexts. More often regarded as a symbol of good luck, hummingbird is also said to be a bird signifying peace, love and happiness.
Here are some hummingbird symbolisms along with their interpretations in dreams and myriad cultures, art and literature.
Just like in various cultures, the appearance of hummingbirds is considered a lucky omen in dreams as well. They symbolize prosperity, progress and endurance.
Hummingbird also teaches energy and endurance due to her ability to hold flight in the air to collect nectar from every flower. This may feel like you’re not moving ahead but you are. You need not drain yourself out as you will feel the progress soon.
(Video credits: PBS)
‘Joyas Voladoras’ or ‘Flying Jewels’ was the name given to the hummingbirds by the first Spanish explorers who arrived in the New World. They hadn’t even seen creatures like hummingbirds as they came only to America and nowhere else. Over 300 species of hummingbirds were seen flying and nectaring.
The French called hummingbird ‘Oiseau Mouche’ and ‘Flower Bird’ because of its quality of fly and for being one of the rarities of the country.
The pilgrims that arrived in the New World were introduced to Native American ambassadors and were offered hummingbird earrings. At first, the pilgrims assumed them to be a hybrid of an insect and a bird. Their colorful feathers that shone in the sunlight left the pilgrims amazed thinking they were magical.
Apart from this, the Native American tribe ‘Apache’ has a folklore which represents hummingbird as a healer and one bringing good weather. According to the folklore, there was a young warrior named Wind Dancer who was born deaf. But he had the ability to sing magical songs that would bring healing and good weather. He fell in love with a woman ‘Bright Rain’ while saving her from wolf and got married to her.
In an errand of mercy, he got killed and this was followed by a bad winter. The Wind Dancer used to visit her in the form of hummingbird and whenever she walked, he would whisper sweetness into her. This stopped the winter bringing good weather to everyone.
The Native American people ‘Cherokees’ believed that a medicine man transformed himself into a hummingbird to find a missing plant.
The indigenous people of Mesoamerica ‘Mayans’ had a belief that the first wedding on Earth was between two hummingbirds. They say that the Great God created hummingbirds from the leftovers of other birds that were created. They were given exceptional flight ability due to their small size allowing them to hover, fly backwards and upside down.
It is believed that the Sun came to announce their marriage promising that their feathers would gleam with magic every time they would look at the sun. Mayans also believe that whenever Sun disguises into a hummingbird when he wishes to pursue the moon.
Some people of the Caribbean believed that the hummingbirds represented spirits of the deceased loved ones.
Known as the ‘land of hummingbirds’, Trinidad and Tobago has hummingbird in its ‘coat of arms’ symbol. This is because more than 16 hummingbird species have been seen on the island.
The hummingbird is sometimes a symbol of resurrection of Jesus Christ for Christians. A legend of the natives in Andes of South America says so. It began due to the natural adaptation of torpor.
The native American people saw the hummingbird going into its hibernation-like state appearing as if dying. Then, seeing it coming back to life may have felt like a miracle similar to Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is why even today, it is regarded as a symbol of Easter and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the springtime around Easter holiday, a hummingbird can be seen.
Romans 1:20 in the Bible says,
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse”—if they do not believe.
And Job 12:7 and 9 says,
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; . . . Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
An Australian biblical creationist Denis Dreves calls hummingbirds ‘God’s tiny miracle.’ He regards it as a remarkable creature good example of evidence of God as creator. Also, he says that all the amazing and compact characteristics of this creature - energy storage, long bill, special tongue, unique rapid wing-beat, flight endurance, long distance navigation- needed to be working perfectly in order to sustain its life.
The primary message of the hummingbird animal totem is:
"The sweetest nectar is within!"
Having hummingbird as a totem means enjoying the sweetness of life, beating the blues and expressing love fully in the life’s endeavors. Keeping it close encourages resilience and adaptation by having a cheerful and optimistic perspective.
Jamie Sams and David Carson, in their book ‘Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power through the way of animals’, say that hummingbird is a creature that opens heart for many people. Hummingbirds teach us to live life in the present and appreciate its beauty. They also evoke the healing and medicinal properties of plants.
The book ‘Animal Speak’ by Ted Andrews teaches us to extract the life’s essence from flowers. They teach us a lesson of independence, courage and a to inculcate spirit of fighting where no one is harmed. The chirping sound of the hummingbirds helps in restoring our health and balance. They inspire us to protect the environment and preserve the endangered old traditions.
Bird tattoos are popular kind of tattoos that people get especially women. A hummingbird tattoo often symbolizes love, peace, hope, good luck, charm and life.
An energetic individual who believes in getting things done and works hard to make things happen would have a hummingbird tattoo. As they also represent care and happiness, people who are in relationships get twin tattoos of hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are lone travelers so the tattoo may also signify independence and freedom.
It was in 1892 when the beauty of hummingbirds was brought to the world in the form of an artwork. And in 1940, an American ornithologist Bent published first book about hummingbirds.
Hummingbird has also been a crucial element of a painting created by Mexico's great painter Frida Kahlo. ‘Self-Portrait With Thorn Necklace & Hummingbird’ is one of her most important artwork. She painted this iconic self-portrait after separating from her husband Diego Rivera and ending the relationship with photographer Nickolas Muray. In this painting, she has painted a hummingbird hanging down from a thorn necklace to express the pain and turbulent phase, she was going through in her life.
Art historians say that the little hummingbird is either a symbol of hope or war. The hope is for a revived love and getting back again with her husband as hummingbird is considered a sign of good luck in Mexican culture. And it could also be a symbol of Aztec god of war ‘Huitzilopochtli’ since her works involved elements from Mexican and Aztec culture.