Help a researcher identify a heraldic sign

So while going through some old stuff recently I found a bone necklace with a weird symbol carved into it.
According to my mother my late great-grandfather made it at some point in the past.
The thing itself is groovy, so I’ll definetly wear it, but I’m curious as to what the symbol signifies.
My family has roots in both south-america and large areas between spain, italy, and south-france so it might be European heraldry or mesoamerican symbolism.
Here’s an approximation of what the thing looks like:
Judging by the shape it might in some way be related to the sun.

The symbol is probably not heraldic, if the drawing is accurate. However, there are two possibilities; neither lines up in the details, but both are possible if the carving is rough or worn.

The first is the carbuncle. This consists of eight rods tied together, usually ending in fleurs-de-lis. Some interpret the carbuncle as an imaginative rendering of an old-fashioned shield boss (the metal bit in the center of a shield). Others claim it is a combination of the Latin cross with the saltire (St. Andrew’s Cross, i.e. an X). It is a fairly rare heraldic symbol, but it does get used occasionally.

The second possibility is Navarre. Navarre was a small Spanish kingdom centered on Pamplona (of bull-running fame) in the early Middle Ages; later, after the Kings of France inherited its throne, the country was split between France and Spain. The arms of Navarre are made up of eight gold chains tied together in a starburst pattern. By the official story, these date to the great battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, where the united army of all the Spanish kingdoms faced and defeated the Almohad Caliphate. The Christian army was almost overwhelmed early in the battle, but then in a final charge managed to reach the bodyguard of the caliph. The bodyguard was made up of slave-warriors chosen for their size and strength, and they were all chained together. Sancho VII, the Navarrese king, was the one who broke through the chained warriors and secured victory, and it is said that in honor of this achievement he adopted chains as his arms. Certainly, they were in use under Sancho’s successor.

Both options may be long shots. Neither symbol lines up with your graphic in the details (although if there’s any inaccuracy in the graphic, that changes the equation), but as I said above that could be because of wear or simplicity in the original carving. Also, neither symbol was very common. Navarre was a very small place, for one thing (although if your grandfather’s family was Basque, the likelihood shoots up dramatically). For another, very few families used carbuncles in their arms. However, long shots are still shots, and both are worth looking into.

I don’t have time at the moment to dig up graphics of either possibility, but either should be easy to find online. If neither pans out, then it’s probably time to start looking at American rather than European symbolism. Good luck on your search!
edited by Siankan on 12/26/2016

Google image’s best guess was a Buddhist Dharma wheel, but of course you’re missing the wheel itself, here.

…I do believe I know what this is.

This may be a Norse sigil. The Aegishjalmur, or &quotHelm of Awe&quot. Perhaps it is a simplified version of it? The full thing would be a pain to carve into bone.

Here is a site explaining the sigil. This sigil is mysterious and it’s exact meaning is not quite understood, due to gaps in knowledge of Norse esoteric tradition.

My first impression was that that bone necklace was a protection amulet. This very well could be a protection sigil. From what I can glean from that website, it is a sigil meant to influence the enemy into hesitating, so that you can strike a fatal blow. A sigil of intimidation, and through intimidation, ultimately protection.

Perhaps your great grandfather was a practitioner of magic? He seemed to have a wide knowledge of sigils, to be using something of Norse creation in South America some 100 years ago.
edited by Addis Rook on 12/30/2016

What is probably the wrong answer: My first thought when I saw the symbol is that it is was the symbol of Chaos from th Eternal Champions series. A brief look at wikipedia shows that it’s pulled from variety of sources, but none that quite match that symbol. Relatistically, Siakan’s more down to earth explanation is more likely.

Graphically, the carving does resemble the center of Ægishjálmr. However, one would have to ask why the design were so truncated; if someone were copying the symbol for anything but aesthetic purposes, chopping the ends off everything would rather defeat the point.

Circumstantially, well, it’s a long shot… but you might win. At this point, we’d need to know a lot more information about our Bisabuleo.

  1. Lifetime. When was great-grandfather born? Just knowing he’s the great-grandfather of someone still living gives a practical birth range of 1860-1950. A lot happened in that time that affects information access. My own great-grandparents were all born in the 1890s, so I’ll assume for sake of ease that we’re looking at a carving date of 1910-1940.

  2. Location. Did Bisabuelo live in South America? North America? Europe? In the city or the country? The information in question was not widely available even in Iceland, and while anything is possible with the right library, libraries of necessary breadth weren’t extraordinarily common in the world. Europe would have had the highest concentration (though most of them in the northern half of the continent: London and Paris and the like), followed by the great cities of North America. South America was at the time a somewhat distant third; its centers of learning (e.g. Lima) and boomtowns (e.g. Manaus and Rio) boasted large libraries, but only a handful rivaled those of New York or Berlin. Outside the largest cities of any continent, the chance of finding such information ranged from minuscule to nil. Also, literacy rates were considerably lower than they are today: in the United States (which had a fairly high literacy rate) the overall rate was perhaps 80% in the early 1900s, but less than 50% in some districts. In many other countries literacy was lower, and in any country it’s lower in rural areas. In short, if great-grandfather were a curious and scholarly man in one of the world’s great cities, he might come across the right information; if he were a poor farmer in the countryside of Colombia or Colorado, probably not.

  3. Religion. All the regions given in Bisabuelo’s ancestry are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, especially in the early 1900s. If Bisabuelo too was a devout Catholic, then we can be pretty certain he wouldn’t be carving pagan symbols into amulets. (This applies to other forms of Christianity as well.) There do exist in South America several syncretistic forms of Catholicism, where Christianity is mixed with elements of the pre-Columbian past; however, these would have incorporated American, not Norse symbols. Pagan revivalism would make use of such things, but that’s a late twentieth-century movement, and great-grandfather would have been a very old man (were he alive at all) when it developed. The final options are spiritism and theosophistry, which were something of a fad from about 1890-1930. I’m not familiar with any use of [color=rgb(43, 43, 43)]Ægishjálmr[/color] in theosophistry, but it wouldn’t entirely shock me.

In short, all the circumstances would have to align just right, although it is technically possible. We’d have to know a good deal more about the carver before we could be certain of the probabilities.