Arefe Sarami & Bahar Mokhtarian

A Structural Analysis of Iconographic Symbols and Metaphorical Expressions of Bicorporal Fish Pattern

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Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / Dec 2015 2(2)


Fish (two fishes) is one of the repetitive dual patterns in decorative works of art which is thought to be a metaphorical expression of some underlying concepts in different cultures. Herati-Two-Symbolic-Fish is an example of two fishes pattern projection in Iranian carpets. At the same time, this pattern also symbolizes the Pisces constellation in the zodiac design. In this study, the dual structure of two fishes symbol and reception of its metaphorical expression in both iconographic material and literary devices within different cultures were investigated. Iconography was employed to describe illustrations and the pertaining symbolic meanings. Then, a structural approach was used to analyze this dual structure and the underlying relations with death/ life bicorporal concepts in myths and legends. In addition, analyzing pictorial and verbal depictions, and utilizing etymological considerations, this study attempted to reveal that two fishes, as a logical structure, is reflected in both cosmological and human body symbolism.
Results from iconographic and structural analysis showed that despite cultural differences and evolutions in some of the elements linked to the central fish-related institute in both iconographic and literary material, the underlying semantic structure, which is responsible for the internal semantic relations and logics among different elements, remains unchanged; and, the fish-related institute remains as the symbolic reflection of the death/life opposition.

Keywords: Two fishes (Pisces), Bicorporal fish pattern, Duality, Structural analysis, Iconography, Body symbolism.

Biographical notes

Arefe Sarami, MA
Department of Art of Religions and Civilizations, Art University of Isfahan
Isfahan, Iran

Bahar Mokhtarian, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Art of Religions and Civilizations, Art University of Isfahan
Isfahan, Iran (corresponding author)