When I was drawing these cartoon valentine hearts, I became a bit curious about the origin of the heart symbol. I began to wonder, who drew the very first heart design? After all, the symbolic image of the heart shape does not look like the hearts within our bodies. Interestingly enough, it seems to be taken from the shape of a seed pod from a plant, now extinct, dating back to 7th century BC in North Africa. It was from the carrot and parsley family, a giant sort of fennel. It grew wild in what is now Libya and was almost impossible to cultivate. It was called Silphium and was the economic crop of the Greek city of Cyrene. The plants flowers gave perfume, the stalk provided food, and a medicinal contraceptive was extracted from its resin and roots. They stamped the heart shape of the seed pod on a coin. I am still curious because I know that the seeds of it's relatives, carrot and fennel, are not really heart shaped.
But as I explored further, I discovered that there are many delightful heart shaped forms existing already in nature. The most of which are leaves. Flickr has a wonderful photo group of the heart shape called Hearts of Nature. In it were a multitude of exquisitely photographed heart shaped clouds, leaves, rocks, flowers, islands, lakes, and tomatoes. My favorite were the heart shaped parts of animals such as a white heart on a horses forehead, a brown heart blotch on a beagle and a cute heart-shaped cat nose. I loved the heart shaped hard boiled egg and the heart potato. I was nuts for the heart in a halved walnut shell. Also two swans necks made a perfect beautiful heart shape. A bright red strawberry was a heart, so was the latte foam atop a coffee, and a heart-shaped cave in Ayers Rock. There are heart shaped cactus, sea anemones, and heart-shaped water ripples. It's addicting and fun looking for the hearts. Now instead of seeing stars, I see hearts everywhere. My favorite heart shapes were cats tails forming a heart and 3 heart shadows: a snail shell on water making a heart shadow, the shadow of a ring in the crease of a book, and the heart shaped un-shadow of a couple kissing.
Do any of the pictures melt your heart? And in your own heart of hearts do you prefer your love hearts silly or serious? Or both?