Solomon's Cross

There are several legends regarding the design of the Solomon's Knot and each tale focuses on the interconnectivity of the two loops.

(Note: The Solomon's Knot is not to be confused with a Solomon's Seal, which is a pentagram.)

Some other Christian Crosses incorporate variations of the Solomon Knot. See for example the Prince of Peace Cross.

Solomon's Cross

Solomon's Cross
Solomon's Cross

Solomon, a name which means 'peace', like the Hebrew shalem in 'Jerusalem', was the son of David and is accredited for building the first temple in Jerusalem about 1000 B.C. (see 1 Kings 6). Most of what we know about King Solomon is found in the Bible, supplemented by a plethora of myths and magical legends.

The Bible relates how Solomon, on becoming king, prayed to God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-15). Any lesser man would have prayed for health, wealth and happiness, but no, Solomon asked for a "discerning heart" and "to distinguish between right and wrong." And this is exactly what God gave Solomon – who was also later blessed with good health, wealth and happiness.

One well-known story (1 Kings 3:16-28) is of two prostitutes who asked Solomon to resolve a dispute over which of them was the rightful mother of a baby. Solomon's answer was extreme, but couldn't have been fairer. He suggested using a sword to chop the baby in two, so that each woman could have half each. The true mother said she would rather the other woman take the child if that was the only way to save his life. Such compassion convinced Solomon that she was indeed the true mother and ruled that she should have the baby. Phew!

1 Kings 4:29-34 speaks more of Solomon's wisdom, and together with various other tales, Solomon is held up to have been the wisest of kings. The Solomon's Knot is therefore a symbol of wisdom.

There are several legends regarding the design of the Solomon's Knot symbol and each tale focuses on the interconnectivity of the two loops and their synergy. So in addition to wisdom, the symbol means strength.

The interlocking style leads to alternative names, such as the Frettee Cross and the Interlaced Cross, a popular Croatian design, where it is known as the Pleter. It is also a popular tattoo and because the symbol has two interlocking parts, it is also known as the Lover's Knot. (And before we get tied up further with the Solomon's Knot, here's a little story about a piece of string.)

Another story gave us the maxim: 'Together, we stand. Divided, we fall.' This saying is attributed to Æsop (620-560 BC) in his fable The Four Oxen and the Lion. A sad end for the oxen, but they proved their point.

Solomon's Knot has been used for centuries in art and mathematics. More recently (2006) chemists built a molecular Solomon's knot at the nanoscale (see And a molecule, however cleverly built, is nowhere near clever enough to out-wit a lion. (See also Albert and the Lion)

Interestingly, that scientific breakthrough came as a result of separating down problems into smaller and smaller issues that could be resolved. This follows the Divide and Conquer principle; the opposite of Divide and Fall. The achievement was academic rather than for any immediate practical application, but the formulae will remain on the shelf of 'Potentially Useful Knowledge' waiting for the right problem to amble by.

Or knot.


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