That’s just the shape of my heart

As any anatomy student will tell you, the anatomical heart is incredibly difficult to draw. So how did the symbolic heart shape originate?

It seems nobody really knows.

Square heart

The heart is too hard to draw (Image from Quiz Up)

Pictures from medieval times show people offering pinecones, fig leaves or pears in place of their heart. These could be the birth of the symbolic heart.

Old heart

I love you with all my pear. Credit: By Atelier du Maître de Bari.  Public Domain,

Some imaginative people think the shape was inspired female genitals, buttocks or breasts or (less seductively) from botanical seeds and leaves.

Perhaps the shape resulted from naive attempts to depict the anatomical heart from descriptions in medical texts. If you look at some early pictures, you can see the aorta.

Hearts feature prominently in religious iconography from the Middle Ages to early modern times. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is well represented throughout the Christian faith.

Playing cards with the familiar heart shape have been around since the 15th century.

German Playing card 1545

German Playing Card from 1545.  Credit: By Unknown – Leo S. Olschki,La Bibliofilia, Firenze : Giuseppe Boffito, 1906, Public Domain,

No matter the origin, the heart symbol has become universally recognisable and one of the most overused shapes we see in our daily lives.

Information sources:

What do you think?

Has the shape of the heart lost its meaning? It’s everywhere we look, even in logos and trademarks. I believe this precious organ deserves a moment of recognition and respect.


One thought on “That’s just the shape of my heart

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