abstract or representational pictorial image that represents a concept, like a moral truth, or an allegory, or a person, like a king or saint

An emblem is a pictorial image either abstract or representational. It represents a Armorial of sovereign states concept — for example, a moral truth, or an allegory — or a person, such as a king or saint.[1] For example, the scallop shell is the traditional emblem of James, son of Zebedee. Pilgrims wore it on their hat or clothes to show that they were travelling to the shrine at Santiago de Compostela.

A pilgrim with a scallop shell emblem

Military Emblems



  1. Simpson, John; Weiner, Edmund (1989). Oxford English Dictionary. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. Archived from the original on 2007-02-23. Retrieved 2011-08-16.

Further reading

  • Emblematica Online. The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Libraries. 1,388 facsimiles of emblem books.
  • Moseley, Charles, A Century of Emblems: An Introduction to the Renaissance Emblem (Aldershot: Scholar Press, 1989)