RE: Armenian Eternity Sign

From: Marco Cimarosti (
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 07:20:02 EST

Michael Everson wrote:
> It doesn't map to Unicode, and the Armenians have not proposed it.
> Nor has any of their information explained what it means or how it is
> used.

I received some information from Hovik Melikyan (member of the ArmSCII
Working Group and author of --
Michael probably already has this information, as he is mentioned as one of
the experts that contributed comments to that document).

About the meaning, Hovik says:

Armenian eternity sign is one of the oldest Armenian symbols we know. It can
be 4-, 6- or 8-petalled, and it can rotate in both directions. Clockwise
rotation means life, and the counterclockwise rotation means death. I don't
know whether the number of petals has any special meaning, although in India
and Tibet 4-petalled counterclockwise rotating "florette" also symbolizes
the Kundalini chakra. Perhaps Hitler's swastica was one of the "derivatives"
of this symbol. That's all I know.

But, about the function of the symbol, he says:

In ArmSCII we intentionally put this sign as the first "opening" code and we
usually draw it rotating clockwise. This symbol has neither functional nor
any other meaning in the coding table except that it begins the Armenian
character set. That was the idea.

which is not very encouraging information, because it seems to imply that
this symbol has *no* known usage.

It is probably because of this lack of function that Mark Leisher proposed

On one hand, this could be a valid idea, considering that U+2741 is a
"dingbat" (i.e., "an ornamental piece of type for borders, separators,
decorations, etc.", see, but it
fights against Hovik's information that the symbol has a variable number of
petals, and that it should have a "rotation" effect with a semantic value.

So Mark also considered mapping it to a position in Unicode PUA, while Hovik
(and ArmSCII) prefers not to map it at all, as Michael suggests.

But it is a pity that Unicode cannot round-trip such a simple single
byte-encoding, because this can cause a problem to developers who use
ArmSCII externally (e.g. for file transmission, GUI interface, etc.) and
Unicode internally (e.g. in databases, string API's, etc).

_ Marco

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