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Trinacria

Updated on July 13, 2012

The Trinacria, a three-legged design resembling a triskele, is a symbol of the Isle of Sicily. The three bent legs are supposed to represent good luck and prosperity. The winged head of Medusa and three wheat ears also were added in modern era staves of wheat the symbol their staple.

The term Trinacria means "triangle" as for the shape of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean. Triangular, the three points represent the three capes of Sicily, also known as Trinacria in ancient times. The Greeks called it Trinakrias; the Romans called it Trinacrium, meaning, "star with 3 points". Today it’s known as Sicily, or Sicilia in Italian taken from the Siculi indigent tribes on the Island. The Siculi, who spoke an Indo-Italic-European language, occupied eastern Sicily as well as southern Italy where the Sicani and Elymi tribes inhabited central and western Sicily. These three Italic indigenous groups were well established far before Magna Græcia, before pre-Greek, pre-Punic or the pre-Latin tribes had ever arrived.

Sicily was known as “Trinacria” from the Roman times and up until the early 1800’s when it was the Kingdom of the Two Sicily’s including southern Italy during the city-states era. Later just known as Sicily when it was an island province after the unification of Italy, The “Sicily” name comes from the indigent Italic tribe, the “Siculi.” Old tales related that the Siculi once lived in central Italy but were driven out by other Italic Apennine tribes and finally crossed to Sicily.

Medusa
Medusa
Athena
Athena
Flag of Sicily
Flag of Sicily
Banner
Banner

The Medusa in the center of the design implies the protection of the Goddess Athena of ancient Grecian mythology, the Patron Goddess of the Isle. In early mythology, Medusa was the destructive aspect of Athena, later, a monster slain by the hero Perseus, who adorned Athena's shield.

The Sicilian Flag recently adopted again in 2000 by the autonomous region of Sicily has the Trinacria in its center on a shield of yellow gold and red-orange. The head in the center was that of Medusa, whose hair did the outraged goddess Athena turn into snakes. In their wisdom, the Sicilian parliament replaced the Medusa head with one that is less threatening to the innocent onlooker who, after all, should not be anticipating being turned to stone.

Historically, the name was used after the Peace of Caltabellotta (1302 A.D.) to distinguish between the two Sicily’s that became a reality after the War of the Sicilian Vespers. The flag of Sicily was first adopted in 1282. Frederick III of Sicily was recognized as king over Sicily, with the title of "King of Trinacria." Trinacria is both an alternative name for Sicily and its national symbol. The flag looks somewhat similar to the flag of the Isle of Man, especially for the use of the triskelion in both; today, the triskelion (or trisceli) is also widely considered the actual symbol of Sicily.

Italic Tribal Divisions
Italic Tribal Divisions
Sicily
Sicily
Isle of Man Flag
Isle of Man Flag
Roman Travertine Mosaiic
Roman Travertine Mosaiic
Grecian Urn Design
Grecian Urn Design
Limestone
Limestone
Terracotta Glazed Tile
Terracotta Glazed Tile

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    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
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      PaulieWalnuts 3 years ago from Chicago

      This link I know sells Trinacria flags and Amazon too has them...also try Ebay they may have some too... but this place below definantly does.

      http://www.flagsonline.it/asp/flag.asp/flag_sicily...

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      angelo/ from 'carini' 3 years ago

      where can the Sicilian flag or a patch for a shirt can be purchased ?

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
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      PaulieWalnuts 5 years ago from Chicago

      There used to be a jeweler on eBay with gold or silver Trinacria rings but I can't find them anymore. If fact I used to advertise them on this Hub too.

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
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      PaulieWalnuts 5 years ago from Chicago

      That's wild, WOW!

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      James Helland 5 years ago

      Hello, I used that Greek urn design on my Vespa......very cool!

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
      Author

      PaulieWalnuts 7 years ago from Chicago

      Yes it is fascinating and mysterious and mystical. I have a finger ring with the symbol and I never stop answering questions about it. Visually I'd like to see it as a windmill, spinning slow and hypnotically. Maybe the ancients did this as a toy or rather in a pagan ritual. In any event the original idea must have always had the three legs or symbols. And "three" is the key element. The face, I'm sure was replaced with many images like an ancient Facebook.

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      Audrevea 7 years ago

      Fascinating! It's such an old symbol - I wonder where it derives from initially. I would read a whole book just on this one topic.

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
      Author

      PaulieWalnuts 7 years ago from Chicago

      The correct direction of the legs, obviously should be depicted in the official Sicilian flag. And that would be the outside, left foot.

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      joe 7 years ago

      What is the correct direction the legs should face?

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      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      Well, it is beautiful and rather surreal. I saw some Gnostic symbols in a book which the Trinacria resembled.

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
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      PaulieWalnuts 8 years ago from Chicago

      The graphic Gnostic symbol is a circle diveded by a cross-making four equal pie shaped sections. The swastika too has 4 legs as does the Gnostic circle, the above TRINACRIA (tri) has ONLY 3 legs. So after further study it appears that the Trinacria does not have early Christianity in mind or the postive swastika aspects either basically because they have 4 legs. The Trinacria is Greco-Roman symbolism based in mythology. But all three symbols and the "Isle of Man" Symbol, share a common thread of unity.

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      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      Well, it's a beautiful symbol. Does it have anything to do with the Gnostic belief? It look similar.

    • PaulieWalnuts profile image
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      PaulieWalnuts 8 years ago from Chicago

      Also the swastika has Native American symbolism and is depicted in many of their rug craft making patterns. As the symbol of Sicily, the three marching legs represent conquering Roman Legions as they march in a never ending continuos revolving wheel. And the Greek mythological Medusa who was exiled and cast to Sicily by Athena the patroness of Greek mythology. Greece' loss was Italy's gain!

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      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      The image is quite beautiful, it reminded me a little of a swastika which was originally a universally recognized magical symbol. Sadly, the Nazi's are responsible for villifying it. They are often seen in carvings on Hindu and Buddhists shrines. Theory holds that they came to Northern Europe from the Indo-Atyan trade routes. And they can be found every where even in the Middle East among ancient Semitic deities such as Ishtar. The swastika in it's original use had nothing to do with racism or anti-semitism at all.

    • profile image

      Chris Friend 8 years ago

      The image is quite beautiful, it reminded me a little of a swastika which was originally a universally recognized magical symbol. Sadly, the Nazi's are responsible for villifying it. They are often seen in carvings on Hindu and Buddhists shrines. Theory holds that they came to Northern Europe from the Indo-Atyan trade routes. And they can be found every where even in the Middle East among ancient Semitic deities such as Ishtar. The swastika in it's original use had nothing to do with racism or anti-semitism at all.