Barbee Cross

Also known as croix tournee or croix cramponnée, Crosstar, Arrow Cross or St. Sebastian's Cross

A simple design with various uses and meanings, depending your situation: geographical, spiritual, social, ideological, racial or even sexual!

The Barbee Cross

crampon cross
A few Barbee Cross examples

Barbee Cross
Barbie Cross on flag of Horni Mostenice, Czech Republic

Barbee Cross
Arrow heads may be 'V' shaped or triangular; may point inwards or outwards

Barbee Cross
Barbie Cross seen on flag of Cajetina, Serbia

In French heraldic terms, the Cross Barbee is known as Croix Tournée ('turn', as in a spiked turnpike) or Croix Cramponnée (crampon, as in hook, grappling iron, or the hooked attachment at the end of a scaling ladder). The same name is also applied to some Anchor Crosses.

Another English word for 'barb' is 'hook', and true to the rebus nature of heraldry, this cross is named after its shape. 

The arrow heads may be 'V' shaped or triangular, and may point inwards or outwards. If the edges of an arrow head are jagged then it's called a Pheon.

As a cross, the barbs are fish-hooks or fishing spears, and suggests the bible phrase "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." The missionary's task is to spread the Christian message to the four corners of the world, and this cross also reminds us of the compass, with its arrows pointing north, south, east and west. (See also Cardinal Cross)

There are several variations; single- or double-sided, but they all mimic a barb of some kind. The single-sided Barbee Cross (the upper image shown above on the left) is similar but unrelated to the Ninja Star and Swastika. The Ninja Star and Swastika symbolize rotation, advancing forward like a propeller screw. In contrast, the Barbee Cross symbolizes holding steady, as with an anchor.

The arrow-head shape also gives the name Arrow Cross, which is favoured by white supremacists who see their goal moving in all directions. This symbol, from the centuries old Árpád striped banners, was used by the 1930s Hungarian Arrow Cross Party, a fascist group modelled on the German Nazi party, who force-marched 80,000 Jews to the Austrian border and from there to Auschwitz. Although that party has been disbanded, this symbol (which they call Crosstar) is still popular with other racist, anti-Semitic and anti-communist groups in the USA. One reason is because of its simple symmetry, like the swastika. (See also the Swedish Yellow Cross.)

Much earlier, the arrow was used to symbolise the plague (see also Plague Cross) of which the Italian San Sebastian is a patron saint. In Christian art, the arrow suggests a spiritual weapon. Saint Sebastian is often depicted with his body bound to a pillar and pierced by arrows; an ordeal which he survived. This cross is additionally known therefore as the St. Sebastian Cross. He is also the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro (and for some people, the patron saint of those interested in BDSM – the naked, suffering image has for a long time been a sexual icon for those interested in 'adventurous' games.)

So much for Italians, Brazilians, Hungarians, Americans, Swedes and French. For us Australians, the barbie is a way of life!

BBQ Cross
Aussie Barbie Cross

See also the Broad Arrow Cross, Anchor Cross and the Fusilly Cross

Incidentally, and somewhat confusingly, the English word 'barb' comes from the Latin 'barba', which means 'beard'. From this we get the word 'barber'. Another similar sounding word is 'barbarian', which is from the Greek 'barbaros', meaning 'foreign person'.

Luke 5:2-10

Today's Magyar Garda, the uniformed section of the far-right wing of Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary), currently wears similarly distinctive badges on their black paramilitary-style uniforms


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