Crescent Cornucopia - Historical Meaning of the Sickle Moon

The uninformed may think that the crescent moon is uniquely attributed to Islamic symbology, but its origin goes back to ancient times spanning across multiple cultures. This shouldn't be surprising, as the moon is visible almost everywhere on Earth and is one of the prime subjects of myth stories.

The earliest appearance of a crescent moon symbol was in Egyptian hieroglyphics as early as 2300 BC, where the crescent moon logograph represented the moon. The Egyptian God of the Moon, Khonsu, is also depicted with a moon on his head with the crescent segment highlighted. Khonsu was also a god of fertility and new life. Around 800 BC, it is seen in ancient Near East (modern-day Middle East) iconography and on coins of ancient Saudi Arabia.

Lladró's Diana/Artemis Sculpture, created in satin porcelain with pearlescent and metallic finishings can be seen wearing a crescent moon necklace.

Around 500 BC, crescent moon symbology started appearing in ancient Greece. The moon goddess Selene is always depicted with a crescent on her head, often referred to as her horns. Artemis (Roman: Diana), the virgin goddess of the hunt, also often wears a headdress with the crescent moon symbol. The crescent moon references her close relationship with Selene, and the lunar cycle parallels women’s menstrual cycle due to her domains of childbearing. It also is similar in shape to a bow, Artemis's preferred weapon.

Lladró's Lord Shiva Sculpture Limited Edition is created in only 720 numbered pieces, a wondrous depiction of one of the Trimurti.

In Hinduism, there is always a crescent moon ornament on Shiva’s head, representing the cyclical nature of the universe and indicating control over his domains of time, creation, and destruction. Shiva also has a crescent moon on his forehead, indicating his full control over the mind and patronage of yogis and meditation. The earliest depictions of Shiva appeared as early as 400-200 BC.

The attribution of crescent moons to Islam began during the early Muslim conquest in the 7th and 8th centuries. It became widespread in the 14th and 15th centuries and only became official symbology around the 18th century due to the Ottoman Empire's adoption of it and the star. It is prominently used in Ottoman architecture, especially as a roof finial on mosques.

Lladró's 1001 Lights Collection was expanded in 2024 with its Majestic Nights Collection inspired by Middle Eastern architecture.

Christian symbology of the crescent moon is strongest in Catholic Marian representation of the Woman of the Apocalypse, especially in the variation Our Lady of Guadalupe originating in the 15th century. In the New Testament's book of Revelations chapter 12, she is described as "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited Catholic Shrine in the world.

Lladró's Our Lady of Guadalupe Figurine.

The most recognisable painting depicting a crescent moon would probably be Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, painted from his room window overlooking the village. Astronomers noted that the moon should have been in a different phase the night the painting was supposedly painted. This led to various interpretations by scholars for the meaning of Van Gogh's crescent moon, from melancholy and depression to romance and peace.

A pair of romantic lovebirds perched on a crescent moon in Lladró's Fly Me to The Moon Birds Figurine Golden Lustre.

Contemporary use of the crescent moon is common when paired with the star, but there are some solitary crescent moon depictions. They appear on flags, including the flag of South Carolina, Maldives, and the Arab League. They are also used in municipal coats of arms in Europe including Switzerland, Germany, Malta, France and Sweden. The symbol for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent is particularly powerful, as it represents humanitarian aid with no political or religious affiliation.

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