The Rosette Symbol


The Rosette Symbol

A rosette is a round, stylized flower design, used extensively in sculptural objects from antiquity. The rosette derives from the natural shape of a rosette in botany, formed by leaves radiating out from the stem of a plant and visible even after the flowers have withered.

The formalised flower motif is often in carved in stone or wood to create decorative ornaments for architecture and furniture. It was a common motif in metalworking, jewelry design and the applied arts at the intersection of two materials, or to form a decorative border.

One of the earliest appearances of the rosette in ancient art is a carved ivory disk from a child’s burial at the Late Aurignacian site in Sungir, Russia, dated to about 28,000 years ago. Clearly the rosette has a very old history, dating back to the times of the Cave Paintings of Europe, and the Great Flood, or earlier.

This motif was widespread throughout Europe and the Near East. Adopted later in Romaneseque and Renaissance, and also common in the art of Central Asia, spreading as far as India where it is used as a decorative motif in Greco-Buddhist art. Rosette decorations have been used for formal military awards. They are also used to decorate musical instruments, such as around the perimeter of sound holes of guitars.

It’s not know for certain what particular symbolism the Sumerians attached to the eight-pointed rosette, but it occurs throughout their cultural history. It can be seen on shell plaques, on the headdresses, and on many other artifacts.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

Inanna was associated with the celestial planet Venus. There are hymns to Inanna as her astral manifestation. It also is believed that in many myths about Inanna, including Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld and Inanna and Shukaletuda, her movements correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky.

The Rosette Symbol

Sungir – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Phaistos Disk Story

Rosettes of the Tree of Life around the Second Garden

Tree of Life in Crete and Cyprus

Rosettes of the Tree of Life in Crete and Cyprus

Tree of Life around the Second Garden

Rosettes of the Tree of Life around the Second Garden

Tree of Life around Lake Van and Mount Ararat

Rosettes of the Tree of Life around Lake Van and Mount Ararat

Tree of Life in Persia

Rosettes of the Tree of Life in Persia


Sungir, Aurignacien


Steatite, Stamp seal, North Mesopotamia, Gawra period, c.3300 BC

Inanna’s symbol, the eight-pointed star or rosette, appears between the pincers of two scorpions on the square face of this stamp seal


Cult scene: the worship of the sun-god, Shamash. Limestone cylinder-seal, Mesopotamia


Ram in a Thicket, Ur, Southern Iraq, 2600-2400 BC

Jewelry from Tomb of Puabi

Puabi (Akkadian: “Word of my father”), Ur, during the First Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2600 BCE)


Queen Pu-abi’s attendants, who were sacrificed to serve her in the afterlife

A shell plaque found in Queen Pu-abi’s tomb

– It shows ibexes rearing up on their hind legs to feed on the leaves of a high branch.

Note the eight-pointed rosette in the cente



Scorpion macehead


Narmer Palette


Rosette designs from Meyer’s Handbook of Ornament


Mohenjo-daro Priest


Sitting bull

– Black marble (formerly inlaid), found in Warka (ancient city of Uruk), Djemdet-Nasr period (ca. 3000 BC)



Mycenaean Jugs


Minolta DSC

Phaistos Disc, Phaistos, Minoan Crete, ca. 1700 BC



Assyrian Tree of Life




The Ishtar Gate, Babylon, 575 BC


Rosette design at the bottom of a statue of the Buddha, Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, circa 1st century CE