Can a symbol be a motif? Can a motif be a symbol?

If not, is there any specific terminology which can be used to indicate that a symbol is a motif, or that a motif is a symbol?

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
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    motif -

    1: a usually recurring salient thematic element (as in the arts); especially : a dominant idea or central theme2: a single or repeated design or color.

    The key is salient thematic element. Check out:

    - On the page where there are examples of Escher's work from "Early work 1916-1922 ", look at the one titled "Plane-filling Motif with Human Figures". Here the shape is the motif, the diamond. Yet, the diamond is not a symbol, it is

    only a salient thematic element.

    Consider the silhouette of an atomic bomb. The mushroom shape. That shape is a symbol for war. But if you used the shape over and over, say 50 times, on a flag that would be flown at a peace rally, then the mushroom shape would become a motif, a motif that was also a symbol.

    Hope this helps.

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