What are the Symbols of Rastafari?
Name: The Lion of the Tribe of Judah
The significance of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in Rastafarianism, pictured here on an Ethiopian stamp from the 1800's, is it's appearance of the flag of Ethiopia under Hailie Selassie I, who was an influential figure in the religion. The "lion of the tribe of Judah" is a biblical reference mentioned in Genesis 49:9, a text concerning the ancient Israelites and in Revelation 5:5, a text concerning Jesus Christ.
Learn more about Jesus Christ here.
A 5th century document called the Kebre Negest claims that the Ethiopian people are related to Israelites who returned with Queen Sheba after her visit to King Solomon, as mentioned in 1 Kings 10:1-13. King Solomon was from the Israelite tribe of Judah and his authority was eventually passed down to Halie Selassie I, according to Rastarian beliefs.
Learn more about Judaism beliefs here.
The colors associated with Rastafarianism are known as "pan-African" colors. There are either three or four colors, depending on the tradition: green, yellow (or gold), red (as in the Ethiopian flag), and sometimes black (as seen in the picture to the left). Red stands for the triumphant church of the Rastas and the blood of the martyrs in the black struggle for liberation. Yellow represents the wealth of their African homeland and green symbolizes Ethiopia's beauty and lush vegetation. There are currently 21 African countries that use this color combination in their flag.
Name: Cannabis plant
The marijuana leaf is one of the most popular symbols in the Rastafarian religion. It's presence in the Jamaican culture is thought to have influenced it's inclusion into Rastafari religious practices. Some adherents believe marijuana aids their meditation as well as others aspects of the spirituality.
Learn more about marijuana use in the world's religions here.
Name: Star of David
The Star of David is an important image to many Rastafarians. The symbol is connected to the belief that some Israelites returned with Queen Sheba after her visit to the Israelite King Solomon, as recorded in the Bible. Although the Star of David post-dates biblical times, Solomon was the son of King David.
Learn more about the history of Judaism here.
Not every adherent of Rastafarianism wears dreadlocks and not everyone who wears dreadlocks is an adherent to Rastafarianism. Nevertheless, dreadlocks are very popular in this religion. The biblical basis for this, according to Rastas, is Leviticus 21:5 and Numbers 6:5, which refers to men growing out their hair. Rastas seen an example of this in Judges 16:13 where Samson is described as having seven "locks' or "braids."
- Rastafarianism overview
- Rastafarianism history
- Rastafarianism practices
- Bob Marley
- Marijuana in the world's religions
References & Sources
- "Rastafarians." Oxford Concise Dictionary of World Religions
- "Haile Selassie." Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service (accessed August 2006).
- "About H.I.M. Haile Selassie." Jamaicans.com
- "The Holy Piby: The holy text of the Rastafari" - BobMarley.com
- "Rasta's Symbolism" - The Afrocentric Experience
- B. Chevannes, Rastafari and Other African-Caribbean Worldviews (Rutgers University Press, 1998), 17-18.
- "The Rastafarian Orders/Sects." Jamaicans.com