Furry symbolism – money, flags and coats of arms.
by Patch O'Furr
Anthropomorphism is loaded with symbolism. Foxes and lions from Aesop’s fables, and fauns and centaurs from old myths represent personalities, emotions and urges. This influenced modern concepts of the subconscious by Freud and Jung. In dream symbols, animals are very prevalent, appearing in as much as 50% of dreams of children. It relates to the way animal symbols spread throughout prehistoric cave art, until today when media is full of animal cartoons. Anthropomorphism has deep roots in the way people think.
You can read a lot more about this in Wikipedia’s page for Symbolic Culture and the study of symbolic language (semiotics.) This broad background makes it interesting to look at symbols with very long traditions, perhaps as old as language. Many furry articles could be written about different categories.
Heraldry and Vexillology – thoughts from Fred Patten.
In a sense, all animals in heraldry are mythical since real animals would never pose as they are shown on coats of arms. Example: the two oryx supporters of the arms of the Republic of Namibia, in southern Africa.
The left-hand supporter on the royal arms of Cambodia is a lion with an elephant’s trunk. This wasn’t created just for those royal arms. The figure is a gajasimha or gajasingha; a lion with either an elephant’s trunk or a whole elephant’s head. Wikipedia has pictures of statues of gajashingas hundreds of years old.
Singapore is noted for its Merlion, combining a lion’s upper body with a fish’s lower body. This isn’t ancient. Singapore became independent in 1965, and the Merlion was specifically designed by Alec Fraser-Brunner for the logo of the Singapore Tourism Board. It quickly became so popular that the Merlion has come to be recognized for Singapore the same way that the bald eagle stands for the U.S. or the brown bear stands for Russia. There is an older, more generic sea-lion.
There are many fantasy or hybrid animals in civic heraldry. The coat of arms of the city of Inari, northern Finland, shows a fish with a reindeer’s antlers. Medway, Sweden’s arms’ supporters are a pair of seahorses. Basel, Switzerland’s arms include a basilisk. (Now you know where the city gets its name from. Ha-ha; no, it’s from “basileus”, the ancient Greek for king or emperor. Many heraldic coats of arms incorporate puns.)
Flags: Laos used to have a three-headed elephant on its flag. Wikipedia says, “From 1952 until the fall of the royal government in 1975 the country had a red flag, with a white three-headed elephant (the god Erawan) in the middle. On top of the elephant is a nine-folded umbrella, while the elephant itself stands on a five-level pedestal. The white elephant is a common royal symbol in Southeast Asia, the three heads referred to the three former kingdoms Vientiane, Luangprabang, and Champasak which made up the country.” Erawan or Airavata is a god in the Hindu religion, supposed to have either three or thirty-three heads. There are statues of him in Thailand as a three-headed elephant. (Apparently no artist was brave enough to draw or carve a thirty-three-headed elephant.)
The flag of Vnukovo, an administrative district of Moscow, Russia (site of Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport), shows a rampant Pegasus above a key to the country.
Money: Symbolism of American money – not furry (unless you count eagles) but a useful introduction.
Many banknotes of nations that had ancient pasts have shown the mythological creatures of their pre-modern religions. The former Iraq 10-dinar bill featured a statue of an Assyrian “flying man-bull”, more properly a lamassu, on the back. According to Wikipedia, “The lamassu is a celestial being from ancient Mesopotamian religion bearing a human head, bull’s body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and wings. It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, were placed as sentinels at the entrances.”
Most people today don’t know (this is one of those little facts of American history that they don’t teach in school today) that in the U.S. until 1866, individual states and banks as well as the federal government could print their own banknotes. Technically, only coins were “money”, and the federal government kept a monopoly on that. The paper currency were promissory notes redeemable in silver or gold. In 1866 Congress, which had started issuing its own paper currency in 1862 as legal tender, passed a law that only it could issue any money, coin or paper.
Here, from a rare paper money website, are a Michigan $3 bill and a New Jersey $10 bill. Each were legal tender only in their own state. The reason that this may be pertinent is that it creates a fantasy of furry fandom printing its own paper money. It wouldn’t be legal tender, but can you imagine paper money with a furry motif? Bills designed by Roz Gibson, Kenket, Dark Natasha, Rukis, ShinigamiGirl, RedCoatCat, and the other top artists of furry fandom?
Maybe each artist could print their own, officially worthless but something to sell at their artists’ tables. Fans could buy and collect sets of furry money from the artists drawing & printing them. If they matched current real paper money, there are bills for $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Seven denominations, and there used to be $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 bills. And there’s nothing to keep a furry artist from making up a $3 bill, a $7 bill, a $25 bill, or a $1,000,000 bill.
There have been s-f conventions that had their own currency, redeemable in their dealers’ rooms and for convention merchandise. There are already furry “cryptocurrencies”.
– Fred Patten
Dogecoin and Yiffcoin: reinventing yesterday’s currency (but it’s only worth as much as people use it.)
YIFFCOIN JOINED INTERNET CRYPTOCURRENCIES in 2014 – Announced at Furcast subreddit by Techwolf (maybe it’s a non-“fixed” version of Dogecoin, “most-traded crypto-currency in the world”.) More discussion: “Furry fandom can benefit from adopting Bitcoin more than any other community!”
Are there any furry examples of flags, heraldry or money personally interesting to you?