Illustrating Inner Beauty

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.

Ra, Egyptian Sun God

Ra, Egyptian Sun God

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.

Apollo, Greek God of Sun, Knowledge and Art

Apollo, Greek God of Sun, Knowledge and Art

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.

Amitabha Buddha

Amitabha Buddha

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.

Chola Nataraja encircled by an aureole of flames

Chola Nataraja encircled by an aureole of flames

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.

Mughal Emperor Jahangir

Mughal Emperor Jahangir

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.

Fra Angelico, Nativity

Fra Angelico, Nativity

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.

Raphael, Madonna of Belvedere

Raphael, Madonna of Belvedere

Posted on July 17, 2017 and filed under Mindfulness, Style, Lifestyle.