Top 14 Rasta Symbols
of reading - words
Are you interested in Rasta symbols? Would you like to be able to recognize them all at a glance? More than their appearance, would you also like to know their meaning and whether they fit your personality?
We are true supporters of the movement and therefore know exactly how to answer all your questions.
Rasta symbols are depicted in different forms. From the internationally recognized pan-African colors of green, yellow, red and black to the Peace & Love sign and the mighty Lion of Judah, there are a number of symbolic figures with different meanings to represent Rastafari, 14 of which are the most important.
By reading this article, you will discover :
- What makes the Rastafari movement so unique?
- What are the symbolic elements with which it is connected
- The exact meaning of each of these motifs
The meanings of the Rasta symbols will no longer hold any secrets for you. You will be able to distinguish them exactly and explain them passionately to all your loved ones. And who knows? Maybe one of them will inspire you for your next tattoo.
Let's find out together now.
1- The Rasta flag
We should say "The Flags." Indeed, we often see colorful flags when we watch clips or documentaries about Rastafarians. They are indeed very important symbols that can in themselves summarize the history of the movement. We will highlight two of the many flags used, as these are the two most important: the Ethiopian flag and the real Rasta flag.
In order to understand why this is so important, it is necessary to know more about the Ethiopian flag.
The flag of Ethiopia has three horizontal color bands: green (top), yellow and red (bottom). In the center is a light blue disk representing a pentagram surrounded by 5 rays. The pattern is yellow.
Each element has its own meaning. Thus:
- Green represents the earth - the forest, the plants.... It is given the meaning of fertility and hope, the return of spring after winter.
- Yellow stands for harmony and justice.
- Red is directly linked to the blood of the men who sacrificed to defend their country.
- The central motif represents peace (the color blue) and unity and equality among people (the pentagram).
One may wonder why the movement chose the Ethiopian flag. If you have hung a flag of this African nation in your living room, you may dazzle your guests with this knowledge of the connection between the Rasta movement and the country.
First, many of the slaves brought to Jamaica, the birthplace of the Rastafari movement, came from Ethiopia. So it is a return to the origins, an ideology that is still very much present in this movement.
Then one of the creators of the movement, Marcus Gavey, said in 1924, "Look to Africa, where a black king is to be crowned, for the day of liberation." These words were those of Reverend James Morris Webb 3 years earlier, and were interpreted as a prophecy announcing the arrival of the Ethiopian king Haile Selassie . His coronation in 1930 marked the real beginning of their movement for Rasta followers. These words have a great impact and connect the king of kings and his country with Rastafari. Selassie was considered by many Rastafarians to be the third incarnation of Yahweh.
From the 1960s onward, many Jamaicans who adhered to the movement made the journey to return to their roots.
b) The Rasta flag
This Ethiopian flag is the origin of many other symbols found among Rasta's around the world. And one of the most obvious is the movement's own flag.
The predominant colors, like the Ethiopian flag, are green, yellow and red. These colors have different meanings.
- The red represents the African blood that has been shed around the world by the black people, fighting for freedom, justice and rights, which were once lost.
- Green retains its original symbolism, namely vegetation. A beautiful land full of wild animals and lush vegetation, it tells of these Ethiopian wonders.
- Yellow for the riches, such as gold (plundered by the colonists), present on African soil.
In addition, the famousLion of Judah (which we will be able to decipher in a moment) is the centerpiece of this famous Rasta banner.
The meanings are harsher than with the Ethiopian flag, because Africans in Jamaica were subjected to the horrors of slavery.
2- Rasta Colors
As you can guess, the colors mentioned above have very strong symbolism for Rastas. Anyone wearing a piece of jewelry depicting these three colors will immediately understand that it is the Rasta movement that is being highlighted. They can be found everywhere.
The pan-African colors - red, yellow and green - are therefore in combination a very important symbol of the Rasta movement. They can be seen on the Jamaican flag (apart from the red), but also on clothing, accessories and jewelry....
Another important symbol for followers of the movement is an animal. You may have seen Rasta people wearing a lion in various forms. This is not just any cat, but the Lion of Judah. This is present in many religions. It represents Jesus in Christianity, a tribe of Israel in Judaism and Haile Selassie for Rasta.
This symbol thus refers to the origins of the African people, but also to their future. The origin of the movement's name can be found in Selassie. The Negro has long been called RAS TAFARI MAKONNEN or creator worthy of respect. He is a direct descendant of the tribe of Judah and is called the Lion of Judah in Rasta writings.
The lion has thus occupied an important place for the followers of the movement, who thus relate their movement to the chief of chiefs, the true incarnation of God for them. It is the conquering lion who fights for his survival and wins. Find out exactly what the Lion of Judah means by reading our article.
4- The Holy Piby
Not only the symbols on the Ethiopian flag are of great value to the Rasta people. Among the important books, the Holy Piby is an important work. Rasta people use the Bible, mainly the Old Testament. But in the latter they could discover passages that they believed had been rewritten by whites in favor of them.
So they sought a text more in line with their beliefs and use a rewritten Bible. The rewritten text was written by pastor Robert Athlyi Rogers in the early 20th century. In these writings one can read that Christ and all the children of Israel are black.
These texts are now rare and the version used by Rasta is a revised version of this one. In these writings the followers of the movement find many important episodes with which they can identify. For example, the Babylonian exodus, which in their view is a description of their exile from Africa imposed by the "modern Babylonians," i.e., the colonizers.
Many of the Rasta's lifestyles are borrowed from the Bible, such as the Nazarite vow to cut off hair - the origin of dreadlocks. It is also in this book that we find the phrase "Then Elijah put a crown on the head of the natural man - on the front part of the crown was a shining star whose light reached from heaven to earth" interpreted as a prophecy of the coming of Haile Selassie.
Let's talk now about an internationally known and recognized symbol: dreadlocks. We have just seen that not cutting one's hair is mentioned in the writings on the Nazarene vow - a believer must not shave or cut his hair. The first traces of the "natty dreadlocks" can be found as early as the 1930s in the camp of one of the movement's founders, Leonard P. Howell. However, this hairstyle is not an obligation and a secessionist movement has emerged.
It is possible to be a Rasta without wearing long, voluminous braids. In the 1960s, three trends occurred:
- Beards with an Afro
- Clean face" (no beard or locks)
But with the movement's icon, Bob Marley, the braids returned in full force in the 1970s and remain a very important symbol of the movement.
We have already noted that marijuana appears on many emblems of the movement. The herb is mainly used for cultic purposes. It is used to better meditate and relax the mind. It also has an image of rebellion. It is smoked even though it is banned by the government and the establishment. Smoking liberates (in all senses of the word) from the yoke and allows you to stand out in a totally coddled world. Cannabis is legitimized by biblical texts such as Genesis 3:18: (...) you shall eat the grass of the field.
Originally, ganja was not consumed for its recreational benefits. And even when not consumed, it remains a strong image of exercise. Many photos show excessively fat weed smokers (the weed, not the rasta...)!
7- The Sirens of Babylon
The Babylonian mermaids, a lesser known symbol of Rastafarianism, also have a meaning, related to music. The Babylonian mermaids were originally mythological figures in Babylon. Illustrating the sun and moon, which, having completed their journey, end their journey in the water, the mermaids soon sang - as early as ancient Greece. It is therefore not surprising that a people who held music in high esteem (we will return to this later) adopted these Babylonian mysteries.
The various singers are compared to the voices of the Babylonian sirens. We have already seen the importance of the biblical city in the Rasta myth. These performers highlight the trials and tribulations of the people and lead them with their words to deliverance. This myth is closely linked to the history and daily life of the movement.
8- The Tambourines of Yah
The same is true of the Jah drums, which symbolize the percussion instruments that are strongly present in African traditions. These drums are directly related to the Buru, instruments that were originally used by musicians from the slums.
The Buru is also considered the main instrument of the religious music of the Rasta - like the Nyabinghi. This relationship was established by the famous player Count Ossie, who laid a rhythmic foundation on which the faithful recite their prayers. This beating rhythm occurs naturally in reggae. The drum is also a Rasta symbol for the resistance of black people to the elements imposed by whites.
9- The Jah
In Jah's drum, there is drum, but also Jah! This term is of great importance to the Rasta. To better understand the meaning, we must go back to Haile Selassie. He is recognized as a direct descendant of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The man was initiated into power at a very young age and officially became emperor in 1930 (he had been appointed negus 2 years earlier). He offered amazing resistance to Mussolini's attempted invasion of Italy and became a key player in the fight against the oppressor. The term Jah was then attributed to him as God on earth. The term is thus used to designate God - Jah is said to be a derivative of Jehovah.
It's not always known, but being a Rasta also means following a certain diet, the Ital. This diet originated as the movement in the 1930s and is similar to the current vegan trend. You don't eat what breathes. By eating the products of the earth, one draws strength from the earth. One draws strength for one's body, as well as for one's mind, from food. But Ital is not just about eating fruits and vegetables. It is also a spiritual trend. We don't eat to please ourselves. Therefore, it is important to eliminate everything that can be desired and eat only what is needed.
11- One language, one world
The Jamaican people naturally use a dialect, as is the case with all languages in the world. It is therefore not surprising that the Rastas have also developed a specific language, intended to be understood by the followers of the community.
This jardon is a mixture of different sources: Creole, African dialect, local slang formulas, but also biblical metaphors. Many traces of these can be found in the various songs, even the most well-known.
a) Example of Rasta dialect
A rasta does not use the I (I in English). He replaces it with the Ego (me) or the I and I (me and me /I and I).
He will not say I will walk, but "I walk". The I becomes we. The Rasta dialect wants to include the other person in the sentence.
He will say "I and I will make music".
This is a way of showing respect for the other person, whoever they are. Far from being purely anecdotal, this language is very popular with the rastaman and is used regularly.
12- The Star of David
The Star of David is also commonly found among Rasta symbols. It has several meanings.
The first is that of belonging to the lineage of King David, of which Haile Selassie is the most important image, as we have already seen.
But also by adopting the star (also a symbol of Judaism), the Rastas consider themselves members of the people of Israel. Bob Marley said, "The Rasta people are one of the twelve tribes of Israel scattered throughout the world. Like their predecessors, they were deported from Africa to Jamaica.
13- The reggae music
How can you separate Rastafarianism and reggae music? You can't. This music was initiated by Bob Marley and will become a means of spreading the ideas of the movement to all who listen to it. This music uses percussion and has a haunting rhythm that is compelling. It is complemented by clear lyrics that emphasize the precepts of the movement - back to basics, love...
14- The Diamond
Diamond is a gemstone that originated largely in Africa. Not surprisingly, it is used by Rasta people. Rasta people consider it a precious pentagram, similar to Solomon's bucket. They display this symbol with a hand gesture and connect it to African wealth (plundered by settlers) and to Jewish history. This gesture also recalls the star on the Ethiopian flag.
Becoming an heir to the Rastafari Movement
As you can see, Rastafarian symbolism has many different meanings and the motifs hold a very important place within Rastafarianism. They are used in everyday life and have been part of the coat of arms of the Rastafarians for decades. As heir to this movement that has made us so alive, we count on you to become one of the guardians of the Rastafarian temple that we so desperately need to pass on the heritage of our elders.
With all this new information, you now master with certainty all the references and nods to the movements. Thus, you are able to realize how you can find them all around you and in every situation. You are now one of those whom other Rastaman supporters will recognize at a glance.
When you have reached this level of knowledge, choose the Rasta emblems with which you feel most connected and decorate your walls with these 5-piece Rasta paintings in a unique and enchanting style.
Discover them now and make your choice by clicking on the image below :