The Trinacria is an ancient symbol that, in 2000, was adopted by the Sicily as the symbol of the island. When I first saw it, I was taken aback. I could not believe that people would put this seemingly horrific symbol up in their homes, on the islands flag, and even tattoo it on their bodies. After I looked into the meaning behind the image it made a little more sense as to why Sicilians take pride in this emblem.
Examples of the Trinacria have appeared all over the Mediterranean. In fact it seems to have a strong Greek influence. Because its origin is undetermined, there are various interpretations of what the symbol truly means. I am going to narrow down the interpretations and tell you my favorites.
The name Trinacria: The name actually comes from a Greek word meaning Triangle. Romans used to refer to Sicily as a Triangular shaped Island and the name stuck when naming and creating the symbol.
Medusa’s head: It is interesting to me that they used the head of the Gorgon as the center of this symbol. Medusa was known for her ability to petrify men with one look. In this interpretation, her face looks more innocent but she has kept her hair of snakes. Some people believe that she was used to protect the island, others think that she is being used as a goddess of nature rather than the more common and horrific version of Medusa.
Wheat coming from Medusa’s head: The wheat symbolizes the fruitfulness of the land. Mushrooms, tomatos, lemons, oranges, manderins, grapes, peaches, asparagus, artichokes, apricots, cherries, melons, prunes, pears, chestnuts, almonds, olives, and eggplants are just a few of the MANY plants that grow in Sicily. According to what I have read, the only fruit that is imported are pineapples and bananas. Other than that, the island is very fertile.
The three legs coming from the head: This is where many interpretations differ. Some believe that the three legs represent the Holy Trinity, the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Others believe that the three legs could represent the three points of Sicily. Many believe that the three legs go back to the legend of Medusa and her three sisters. Some people have speculated that the positioning of the legs makes it look like they are running for eternity. Still, there is no real answer as to why they were included in the symbol.
After doing a little more research I have a better understanding of the meaning and its value to people…but I’m not sure I will ever understand getting it tattooed on your body.