Cover image for An encyclopedia of archetypal symbolism
An encyclopedia of archetypal symbolism
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Boston : Shambhala, 1991,1996.
Physical Description:
2 vol. : col. ill. ; 32 cm.
v. 1 [untitled]-- v. 2 The body.
Added Author:


Material Type
Shelf Number
Reference book BL603.A72 1991 V.2 1
Reference book BL603.A72 1991 1

On Order



A superbly produced book of full-page color photographs of artworks and artifacts, accompanied by interpretive commentaries by historian of religions George R. Elder, Ph.D., plus bibliographies and index. The works of art are arranged thematically in chapters focusing on particular body parts that are the symbolic objects of art and ritual. This illuminating book is certain to become a valued source of pleasure and insight for a wide range of readers.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism is a collection of some 13,000 images, with commentaries, from around the world. Its curators selected 100 of those images for publication in this encyclopedia, which ranges from Paleolithic through modern times and includes Asian, European, Near Eastern, African, and North and Central American materials. The intent is "to provide an encyclopedic collection of symbolism that honors both the universal pattern and the specific meaning associated with a given image. . ." (p.X). Each entry consists of a high-quality photo (most are in color) of the image, a detailed physical description, a cultural history, and an archetypal commentary. A bibliography and a glossary of names and terms complete each entry. The images are organized by mythic themes and an index is provided. Roughly one fifth of the images come from India, another fifth from the Near East, and two fifths from Europe. Other areas are more sparsely covered, and South America and the Pacific regions are unfortunately overlooked. Although the language of the entries is not always gender-inclusive, there is a good balance of feminine and masculine beings and concepts. The archetypal commentaries range far and wide: the Norse depiction of the four dwarves holding up the sky prompts a discussion about celestial and terrestrial iron, alchemy, unconscious impulses, and hunches. The focus of the work is Jungian rather than classical or literary, so this is a source for the psychological and mythical meaning of the images, with names such as Downing, Gimbutas, Harding, and Harrison prominent beside Boaz, Eliade, Jung, and Neumann. A beautiful, engrossing, informative, and unusual work, well worth the cost. Highly recommended.-M. R. Pukkila, Colby College