Where Did our Love Affair with a Fake Looking Heart Begin?
So we're all smart enough now to know that a heart don't look like this ❤️. So why the hell do we pretend it does?
It represents love and care universally, and across all relationship types, but no one actually knows how it officially started. There are countless theories and ideas, with a few being very plausible. But as of the moment, we do not know for sure.
Silphium was an ancient species of giant fennel that grew along the coastline of North Africa near the Greek colony of Cyrene. The properties of the Silphium can be seen in many ancient texts and poems, and the fact is was extinct by 1 A.D, shows it's popularity. It was used for
Medicine.. but most importantly,
In some ancient depictions, we can see that the seed of the silphium resembles our beloved heart symbol.
The shape and the connection with love and baby-making, makes Silphium a strong contender for the truth about the origin of the heart.
“Roman de la Poire” (Romance of the Pear)
The current earliest known depiction of our love symbol appears in the 1250's next to a capital 'S' in the manuscript of "Roman de la Poire". In the miniature (small illustration to that decorate ancient manuscripts) of Thibaut de Blaison's French romance, you can see a man offering his heart to a woman as she's about to b*tch slap the life out of him. But is it really a heart? Since the title translates to Romance of the Pear, my guess is it's a fricking pear.
During the Middle Ages from scientists who tried to visualise ancient texts.
Another theory (proposed by Pierre Vinken and explained by Martin Kemp), is that our heart symbol was formed after scientists read the writings of ancient philosophers Galen and Aristotle and tried to replicate their descriptions with illustrations. They described the human heart as a three chambered organ with a dent in the centre.
14th century Italian physicist Guido da Vigevano was allegedly the first scientist to draw his anatomical descriptions. His drawings are very alike to Aristotles explanation, and a snowball of the heart shape we now know started appearing in art internationally. The presumption at the time was that the heart is connected to all emotions, especially love and pleasure. So this paired with the speculated shape, made it into a widespread symbol of medieval love.
Additionally in 1305, Italian artist Giotto painted Caritas in the Scrovegni Chapel giving her heart to Jesus. The heart was pictured upside down, which became the usual way to represent it.
In the first part of the 15th century however is when the dent began to noticeably appear. Even used on playing cards such as the above German deck from 1540, the curvy mirrored shape we now know as our symbol of love had secured itself a position in human history forever. Passed down unknowingly from generation to generation, it's something we all share eternally as a human race.
Opposed to these theories, some researchers believe it could originate from the leaves of plants such as the ivy or water-lily. While others lean more towards to similar shape breasts or buttocks. But the fact of the matter is, is that we don't know for sure!
All I know for 100% fact, is that two real hearts put together forms our famous heart symbol. And that's enough for me.