Since ancient Egyptian times, a crown of light rays also known as a halo, nimbus, aureole, glory or gloriole has been used to emphasize and categorize specific figures in works of art.
Many of us are most familiar with the halos found encircling the heads of religious figures, but these rays of light can sometimes appear radiating from secular rulers or epic heroes as well.
So what does this artistic motif symbolize? This otherworldly glow illustrates sacredness and divinity, but it also calls to mind immortality and even inner beauty.
When you see this ring of light - whether it encircles Greek hero Perseus, or powerful Mughal emperor Jahangir - our eye is trained to place importance on this figure, even if we are unaware of their story.
We see this internal glow radiating out and are encouraged to look beyond a physical presence and to imagine the notable qualities and noble deeds that make up their inner beauty.
As time went on and artistic styles changed, so did the illustration of this sacred glow. In Europe, large, gold-leaf embellished halos gave way to simple, signifying rings during the Renaissance.
Why would a realistic work of art maintain a halo you ask? To us, this radiation of light is a kind of energetic realism. For when one is rich with inner beauty, they seem as though they glow outwardly.