What Is the Symbolism of the Greek Key Design?

The Greek key design symbolizes infinity or the eternal flow of life. It can also represent waves, the four compass points, the four seasons and snakes. The design was named “meander” after the twisting and turning of the Meander river in present-day Turkey. It was the most important symbol utilized in Ancient Greece.

The shape of the symbol — both angled and rounded — has been used as a decorative motif in architecture, in mosaic tiles and to encircle stone columns. Temples were widely decorated using the meander design, and it is common in Greek and Roman art. Furniture craftsmen often incorporate the meander into their wood carvings. Jewelry designers see the Greek key as representing the eternal bonds of friendship and love. Tattoo artists use it to signify a journey that has no particular destination planned.

Some historians believe that the Greek key symbol originated in the myth of the labyrinth, a garden maze formed by rectilinear paths separated by tall hedge-like vegetation. It has most notably been associated with the legend of Jason, a seafarer who led a band of adventurous heroes known as “the Argonauts.” The Greek culture had many connections to the sea, and meandering water permeated their daily life and thoughts.