From the use of heart-shaped pillars in ancient architecture to hand-hearts at a BTS concert, this particular muscle has only gotten more popular over the years, nay, centuries.
Even before mythology and dare, we say, religion became popular, came the heart icon, described over manuscripts and first depicted in Roman de la Poire (Thibaut, 13th century), a French medieval text that first spoke of romantic love. What we now see on playing cards on Friday nights, was first visualized as a pinecone-shaped muscle being presented by a man to his lover as a symbol of complete surrender.
The heart has always been perceived as the ‘seat of the soul’, or the very first book of poetry by artists from all walks of life. The Catholic Church also seemed to have an affinity towards this shape, as it stains the windows of many religious walls in western countries, but contrary to the belief that this icon became popular due to its religious and mythological connections, it was already widely used worldwide. It’s no wonder Hallmark made a holiday out of it. While Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love, the trademark heart icon only grew in popularity in various contexts.
In recent years, whether it has been a sign that reads “I (heart emoji) Mumbai” in blinding fluorescence or a simple doodle of a cursive heart in the corner of a high school sweetheart’s notebook, the shape of a heart has and always will be the simplest gesture of assurance that the space between the observer and the symbol will always hold some form of intimacy.
With the onset of the internet and social media, different coloured hearts came to mean different things. The classic Red stands for true romantic love, while a green heart may be popular amongst vegans and vegetarians striving to save the environment and a yellow heart (just like the rose) could mean pure, unwavering friendship.
Just like language and literature have found their way into the ever-evolving ways of the world, transforming over time and yet, speaking directly to the souls of those who dare to indulge; the heart icon, now called an emoji, while having warped to fit into several narratives over the years and maybe even been overused but never faded out of style during the recent pandemic, continues to represent one thing to the whole world: the perseverance of love, in all its glory.