The History of the Heart Shape

Amy Cunningham

In modern days, the heart symbolizes love, romance, and passion, but where did this come from?

The Heart Shape

The heart is traditionally drawn in this shape with a red color.

Colors of the Heart

The color of hearts is generally red colored. Red traditionally represents passion and strong emotions in many cultures.

Heart Theories

From what we could determine, there are three main theories as to where the heart shape originated. None of the three are proven, but all present interesting points:

  1. Modeled after an actual heart.
    This theory is actually a pretty well known one. The theory says that the modern drawing of a heart is actually modeled after the actual human heart because the ancients, including Aristotle, and even some today, believe that the heart contains all human passions. However, the traditional heart shape as drawn has very little resemblance to an actual human heart. The drawing more closely matches that of a cattle heart, which was more readily available in sight in past centuries, meaning they modeled it after a cattle heart. However, the resemblance to the cattle heart is still very slight. It's also said that the drawing of a modern heart possibly originated because of botched drawings of the human heart by medieval artists after a philosopher inaccurately described the shape. The medieval tradition of courtly love may have reinforced the shape's association with romance. Hearts can be found on playing cards, tapestries, and paintings.

  2. Depicts the female body.
    Some say that the traditional heart shape actually represents body features of a female, such as the vulva, breasts, or buttocks. The female pelvis is also somewhat heart-shaped. Because the female gives birth to life, this could be the association with the heart-shape and love.

  3. Derived from a seed.
    cyrene coinA last theory is that the traditional heart came was derived from the plant seed of the Silphium plant. This now extinct (for over two millennia) North African plant was found in the ancient city of Cyrene during the seventh century BC. The plant was most commonly used as seasonings, but was also widely used as a contraceptive in ancient Egypt. Because of it's importance to their economy, they depicted the shape of the seed on their coins. The seeds were distinctly heart-shaped. It is said that because of the use of the plant as a contraceptive, the shape of the seeds became associated with sexuality and eventually with romantic love.

Hearts in Modern Times

The modern heart could have been derived from any of these theories above, but more important is it's representation today. The heart shape symbolizes romance and passionate love. It is most commonly seen with Valentine's Day or other romantic greeting cards and romantic trinkets.

Heart Shaped Gifts

Whether you're looking for a romantic gift for your sweetie or a romantic idea to let them know they've stolen your heart, you'll find it here.

  • Send an email or text message with a emoticon heart <3
  • Create a heart on your website with the code: &hearts;
  • Make dinner with heart shaped pasta
  • Make breakfast with a heart shaped waffle maker
  • Surprise her with a bouquet of heart shaped balloons
  • Buy a heart shaped ice cube tray and put your 'heart' into their drink
  • Get a heart shaped cookie cutter and use it for cookies, sandwiches, pancakes, etc.
  • Make a heart shaped chain out of paper
  • Get several cards with hearts and write romantic heartfelt messages in them
  • Heart shaped chocolates
  • Give her a heart shaped necklace
  • Heart-shaped measuring spoons from
  • Heart-shaped ice cream scoop. So what if it's a wedding favor! ;)
  • Try baking a cake! This heart-shaped cake pan from Target makes it easy.
  • Buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates
  • Give her a heart-shaped locket with a photo of the two of you
  • heart puzzleHave a little love fun together putting together this heart puzzle.
Heart Promotions
Save 20% on all gifts with Hearts.

Natural Hearts
swan heart flamingo heart heart shaped cloud

Fun Heart Resources
BackStreet Boys 'Shape of My Heart' - Lyrics to the song.
Hearts in Nature - A very cool slide show of photos.
Wikipedia: The Heart as a Symbol