The symbols on weapons within any given fictional realm have a way of embedding themselves deep into the subconscious. They say a great deal about the characters who wield them, even if the characters themselves don't talk about them. For fans to uncover the meaning of symbols on illustrated weapons, an insane amount of dedication and research are required. It is, however, well worth it.
Often, symbols on shields, guns, staffs, and other weaponry represent something peculiar and unexpected. Who knew these fictive universes were overflowing with curses, legends, hate symbols, and more? The truth within these shows, comics, movies, and games is scrawled along the rims of ancient shields, concealed in hieroglyphic letters, or sometimes written in entirely fabricated languages that take years to decode. Here’s an up-close overview of illustrated weapons like you’ve never seen them before; decoded and comprehensible, with their hidden meanings shining through.
The Legend of Zelda’s creators instilled a great deal of real-world mythology into the symbolism on their swords, shields, and weaponry. The Triforce Emblem, three triangles coming together to create one larger triangle, actually stems from the story of the Hōjō Clan, a fallen family of regents that once reigned over Japan in the 13th Century. The Triforce is evocative of their treasured family crest.
As lore would have it, the Hōjō family was visited by a magical, wish-granting dragon who left behind three scales. Three goddesses played a major part in the story as well. This fable was the inspiration for their family crest, and later it would serve as a quintessential symbol in one of the biggest video game franchises of all time. Also, The Legend of Zelda incorporated three goddesses directly into its story, probably as an homage to the Hōjō clan.
The Triforce symbol is perhaps featured most prominently on the Hylian Shield. It's pretty remarkable, then, when you consider that the very first Hylian Shield was guarded by a magical dragon. Clearly, the people behind The Legend of Zelda did their homework.
Most Overwatch fans assumed the symbols on Sombra’s gun were nonsense, fabricated shapes and numbers meant to look pretty but ultimately provide no real information. In reality, however, those symbols are hexadecimals, a numeral system often utilized by computer programmers.
Unlike other gaming emblems, the hidden cryptic meaning isn’t ancient, it doesn’t contain any curses or omens or insightful philosophy. It’s just a really cool way to display an ammunition count, proving that the Overwatch creators have an eye for detail and are willing to think outside the box in order to keep gamers guessing.
Wonder Woman's sword is a thing of majesty, much like the heroine behind it. It's adorned with a brutal quote that comes courtesy of author Joseph Campbell. The people at the DCEU came up with a hybrid extinct language to engrave on the shield, and they gave us a translation in the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Tech Manual. The phrase is simultaneously feminist and incredibly badass, just like Wonder Woman herself: "Life is killing life all the time and so the goddess kills herself in the sacrifice of her own animal."
In Aladdin, Jafar’s sinister hypnotic staff did a great deal of damage not only to the protagonists, but to the entire community of Agrabah at large. The staff was adorned with a cobra head at the top, and it was the eyes of the cobra that held the key to its seductive powers.
The uraeus, or rearing cobra, is actually an ancient Egyptian symbol, once a revered emblem of supreme power and magical protection. Interestingly, when the rearing cobra teams up with a vulture to uphold Horus’ all seeing eye in Egyptian mythology, the two halves of Egypt are united.
In the movie Aladdin, Jafar teams up with a bird. Sure, he's a talking parrot, but the gist is still readily apparent. When you consider the multiple displays of mysticism and occult themes that occur throughout the movie, it’s easy to suspect the cobra head/bird combo wasn’t merely a coincidence.