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This article has been published in: Ocula 23, Flowers of the soul: The symbolism of flowers in the religious imagination

authors: Francesco Galofaro (Dipartimento di filosofia e scienze dell'educazione, UniversitÓ di Torino (UNITO); Centro Universitario Bolognese di Etnosemiotica (CUBE)) and Marco Papasidero (Dipartimento di filosofia e scienze dell'educazione, UniversitÓ di Torino (UNITO))

Foreword: flowers and religions: semiotic and historical remarks

language: english

publication date: July 2020

abstract: The semiotic problem of flowers is not merely the province of specialists. It is a shared object of analysis in a wide range of human sciences: literature, history, anthropology, religious studies. The value of flowers depends on their position in the system of the culture in question. This system can be identified with the semiotics of the natural world of the considered culture. Depending on the context, each feature of the flower can be relevant to manifest a meaning. For this reason, flowers constitute a poetic repertoire of ready-made elements and syntagmas, an imaginary which can be used in literature and in any other semiotic system to convey rhetoric effects. As they are inserted in narrative structures, these effects can further transform their value. These shifts of value entail functional changes which can be reconstructed by the researcher and can be useful to investigate the relationship between different cultures and different epochs. Flowers and plants are important elements of many religious traditions, also because they play a crucial role in cosmogonies and myths of the origin. From the analysis of the case studies considered, a radical opposition and a constant oscillation between a concrete and a metaphoric/symbolic use of plants emerges. Another significant aspect is the presence of miracle accounts, in which the concrete dimension of plants is filled of supernatural references. In fact miracles put in communication two different dimensions: visible and invisible. Many of the considered tales reveal an etiologic aspect, with the aim to explain the origin of places and plants on the basis of supernatural events.

keywords: fiori, flowers, religione, religion, symbols, simbolo, metafora, metaphors, storia, history

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DOI: 10.12977/ocula2020-25

citation information: Francesco Galofaro and Marco Papasidero, Foreword: flowers and religions: semiotic and historical remarks, "Ocula", vol.21, July 2020. DOI: 10.12977/ocula2020-25



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