The physical representation of something abstract, such as a meaning or ownership; also codes and language that send messages to those who needed to know long before the written word.
Across the centuries, in literature, art and music, symbols or symbolic language has been used as representation and message for interpretation or comment, very often subliminally and with political intent.
Symbolic patterns woven into or embroidered onto clothing was and still is used to signify identity and belonging, stating the wearers position within family and community.
Throughout the history of textiles, whether woven, printed, embroidered, painted, patchworked or quilted, symbols feature as design elements, for decorative purposes and as cultural, religious or historical references. A symbol might be a motif that has been honed and transmitted through the generations, of cherries, peppers , say. Symbolic works are very often extremely important representations of a sacred idea, flower, animal or of an image that needs to be copied with great accuracy.
Signatures are symbols of ownership and recognition, used by artists and textile designers, whether subtly or prominently, to sign off and identify their work; patchwork quilt maker or carvers will do the same with a small motif. Again, a design and manufacturing industry will be known by a particular symbol for maybe hundreds of years, such as the cross on Meissen porcelain A symbol woven into or embroidered onto clothing might signify identity, a sign of belonging to a specific village or community.