The Sicilian Flag
Ciauru di Sicilia
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The Sicilian Flag
Trinacria is the island's symbol. It is a Gorgon's head whose hair consists of braded snakes and ears of wheat, and it symbolizes Sicily's fertility. Three legs bent at the knee radiate from its head.
Gorgon was the name given to the mythological daughters of Forco and Ceto, two gods of the sea usually described with wild boar tusks, bronze hands, golden wings and snakes wrapped around their head and waist. According to Hesiod, they were Medusa (the Gorgon for antonomasia), Stheno (the mighty) and Euryale (the far-springer). The Gorgons had the power to turn to stone anyone who gazed at them, and lived with Atlante's daughters, the Hesperydes, on a blissful island in a remote western corner of the world.
The three legs represent the extreme points (triskeles means three corners) of Sicily, Capo Peloro (also called Punta del Faro) in Messina district, Capo Passero, a few kilometres from Syracuse, and Capo Lilibeo (also called Capo Boeo), near Marsala. Number three is also related to the morphology of the island, with three promontories and three vertex.
In the Sicilian flag, the symbol of a female head with three folded legs (triskele) is embellished and moved directly from the head. In heraldry, this representation is called trinacria.
They were three and represented the perversions: Eurial represented sexual perversion, Steno the moral perversion and Medusa (the most famous, the only mortal among the three and the guardian of the Inferments) the intellectual perversion.
Its head clearly refers to the gorgones, monsters of monstrous Greek mythology, golden wings, hands with bronze claws, wild boar horns and snakes in place of hair.
Formerly the name of Sicily was that of Triquetra or Trinacria. This is because, unlike the classic round shape of all the other islands, Sicily has a strange geographical configuration. It is characterized by three promontories, Pachino, Peloro and Lilibeo and three vertices that almost instinctively refer to the triangle. And it is probably in the Hellenistic period that the Greek culture, filled with gods, semides and mythical monsters, coined the symbol of the gorgon with three legs attached directly to the head, associating it slowly to our earth and the mysteries that enveloped it (if I did not mistake once The end of the world with so many columns of Hercules was much closer to Sicily than we can imagine today).
But where does this symbol originate? Have there ever been any similar in human history?
In this the scholars agree to reiterate that the trinacrum is an ancient oriental religious symbol that represented the sun god in its triple spring, summer, and winter form.Remote coins (of the VI and IV century BC) testify to it. They came almost from the cities of Asia Minor, like Aspend in Panfilia, Olba in Cilicia, Berrito and Tebe in the Troade.
The symbol would then spread to the West through the Greeks who, with their three legs, marched several coins (such as those of Athens in the 6th century BC, but also later in the cities of Paestum, Elea, Terina, Metaponto and Caulonia).In Sicily, however, it seems to have been Agatocle (in Siracusa) to use the symbol on coins and maybe (this figure is not certain) as a personal seal.
It is only in Roman times that the trinacria loses its intrinsic religious significance to become exclusively the geographical symbol of Sicily.
At that time in Palermo the three-legged gorgon appears in its definitive aspect on the coins. But instead of snakes, the gorgon's head is decorated with many ears. Ears of grain that gave Sicily its role as a barn of the ancient Roman Empire. Sicily is synonymous with fertility and prosperity.But why was the head of a gorgon used?
The question that some of you may ask is: but why, if the religious significance of the trinacria was gone, did you continue to use a mystical image like that of the gorgon?
The gorgon, my friends, is a typically Sicilian detail.In all the other representations, the legs were linked to each other through a circle or point.And "Trichetry" is strongly linked to East Greek mythology. Our ancestors used to decorate temples, vases, and houses with pictures and picturesque depictions to ward off, remove, or cancel malicious influences. Just as the gesture of the horns we use to exorcise the evil.For the Sicilian doc, religious and superstitious for family tradition, trinacria is a lucky talisman.
We want to conclude this article by explaining why the yellow and the red appear in the official flag of the Sicily region.
Yellow and red represent the courage of the cities of Palermo and Corleone respectively, which for the first time rose up against the French during the Sicilian vespers of 1282.