A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some of the symbols that have come to indicate peace that can be used in posters, art and other media.

peace _n-icon _d-icon

Peace Sign – The Peace Action Symbol was designed on February 21, 1958 for use in the first Aldermaston Easter Peace Walk in England. The symbol is the composite semaphore signal for the letters ‘N’ and ‘D’ standing for Nuclear Disarmament.

Dove – In the Bible, a dove was released from the Ark by Noah and returned with an olive branch to show that the Biblical flood was over. Ever since, the dove has symbolized deliverance and God’s forgiveness. (Genesis 8:6-12)

Olive Branch – The olive branch has for thousands of years been used as a sign of peace and goodwill. In early cultivation of the olive it took decades to bear fruit for harvest, and anyone who planted olive groves must be expecting a long and peaceful life. The symbolism is also probably related to the Biblical story of the dove. An Olive Branch is clutched in the right talons of the American Eagle in the Great Seal of the United States symbolizing peace.

unoliveOlive Wreath – The olive wreath, like the one at left taken from the United Nation logo, was the highest award given to a citizen in ancient Greece. The prize was also given to winners at the ancient Olympic Games — a time when wars were suspended between competing states. 


RAINBOW3Rainbow – The rain-bow is also a biblical peace symbol. When men would go off to fight they would take their “bow” with them  — when they would return home they would “hang their bow” up on the wall making the basic statement that they were not at war but in a time of peace. The rain-bow is the same action but the Holy One “hanging bow” in the sky for all to see that we are not at war but in a time and promise of peace. In Judeo-Christian traditions it symbolizes God’s forgiveness, as it was placed in the sky as the arch of peace after the Biblical flood — a symbol of the covenant between God and mankind.  

calumetCalumet (peace pipe) – Calumet means “reed” in French. Such pipes were considered sacred, offering communion with the animate powers of the universe and embodying the honor and the source of power of Native Americans who possessed them. Calumets were particularly used at the conclusion of peace treaties and in ceremonies of adoption. The pipes were principally used by the Dakotan and Algonquian peoples of the Great Plains and in the southeastern United States. Communal smoking usually carried the guarantees of friendship.

mistletoeMistletoe “After the sun god Balder was killed by the wicked Loki’s mistletoe dart, the plant was feared and hated by all as the wicked instrument of death and betrayal. But Balder’s mother, the goddess Freya, redeemed it in honor of her son, decreeding that mistletoe should become a symbol of peace and reconciliation. From that time on, enemies who met under a clump of mistletoe would lay down their arms and declare a truce. That is why it is hung in the doorway to this very day, and a kiss of peace and loving kindness bestowed on all who enter.” (Scandinavian folklore, cited by Susan Wittig Albert in “Mistletoe Man”.)

peace_handPeace Sign – This sign is thought to have begun in Europe during World War II when a V for victory was painted on walls as a symbol of freedom from occupying forces. The sign was very widely used by peace movements in the 1960s and 70s as a symbol of victory for peace and truth.


Pax Cultura — Nicholas Roerich, a Russian artist, cultural activist, and philosopher, founded a movement to protect cultural artifacts. Its symbol was a maroon-on-white emblem consisting of three solid circles in a surrounding circle. It has also been used as a peace banner. In 1935 a pact initiated by Roerich was signed by the United States and Latin American nations, agreeing that “historic monuments, museums, scientific, artistic, educational and cultural institutions” should be protected both in times of peace and war. Roerich described the circle as representing the totality of culture, with the three dots being Art, Science, and Religion, three of the most embracing of human cultural activities. He also described the circle as representing the eternity of time, encompassing the past, present, and future.


Broken Rifle — The broken rifle symbol is used by War Resisters’ International  and its affiliates but predates the foundation of WRI in 1921. The first known example of the symbol is in the masthead of the January 1909 issue of De Wapens Neder (Down With Weapons), the monthly paper of the International Antimilitarist Union in the Netherlands.

poppy_BWWhite Poppy — In 1933, during a period in which there was widespread fear of war in Europe, the Women’s Co-operative Guild began the practice of distributing white poppies as an alternative to the red poppies distributed by the Royal British Legion in commemoration of servicemen who died in the First World War.  In 1980, the Peace Pledge Union revived the symbol as a way of remembering the victims of war without glorifying militarism.


Rainbow Flag — Was designed in 1923 by the international cooperative movement in Basel, Switzerland to celebrate the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. In the 1980s, San Francisco artist, Gilbert Baker,
designed such a flag as a symbol for gay pride (usually with the red stripe on top.) In 2002, the flag it became popular with the ‘pace da tutti i balconi’ / peace from every balcony campaign, started as a protest against the impending war in Iraq.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This