The heart shape ideograph is a symbol used to express the notion of love since the middle ages (first shows in a painting by Roman De La Poire) and since then the greetings cardindustry have made themselves quite a few fat bucks on the back of this plump little picture. Back in the day, it was shown mostly upside down (the reverse way to how we have it now). You could be forgiven for thinking this meant the opposite of love: like the inverse crucifix symbol for example. It wasn’t until the 15th century that we see it the right way up although (without considering time travel) it’s unclear what prompted the change. We’ve been using them happily to show our love (romantic and otherwise) since then. The ubiquitous heart shape has made it onto flags, computer games (to indicate lives left), health communications by healthcare authorities, valentines cards, accessories, souvenirs and even the holy bible!
Although geometrically speaking the cardioid doesn’t look anything like a real human heart, it can be seen almost everywhere in nature: plants, leaves, birds and fruit. All very innocent you might say, but in reference to what the shape actually looks like, there are some theories that link it to a depiction of female genitalia. Historians have found the image of a heart painted on the doors of brothels in ancient Rome, which has inspired discussions on the true meaning ofthis symbol.
Whether you’re convinced by this school of thought or not, i’m sure you will have a little laugh to yourself next time you see an ‘I heart NY’ sign.
Original article found here.