Archetypal Symbolism

A  R  A  S
The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism

... the content of the collective unconscious
is made up essentially of archetypes
Carl Jung

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A new book from ARAS:
The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images

Published by Taschen, November 2010
Pre-order your copy

Approximately 350 original essays accompanied by 800 full-color images, from cave drawings to contemporary art, illuminate psyche's mythopoetic nature and symbolic form. Text and image work together to move the reader from the visual experience of an image to the discovery of its psychological resonance and archetypal core.

See More · Press Release
The ARAS Archive
Drawing upon Carl Jung’s work on the archetype and the collective unconscious, the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS) is a pictorial and written archive of mythological, ritualistic, and symbolic images from all over the world and from all epochs of human history. The collection probes the universality of archetypal themes and provides a testament to the deep and abiding connections that unite the disparate factions of the human family.


Click on image for larger view.

Begun in the 1930's by a colleague of Jung, the ARAS archive contains approximately 17,000 photographic images, each cross-indexed and accompanied by scholarly commentary. The commentary includes a description of the image with a cultural history that serves to place it in its unique historical and geographical setting. Often it also includes an archetypal commentary that brings the image into focus for its modern psychological and symbolic meaning, as well as a bibliography for related reading and a glossary of technical terms.

View these sample images and commentaries:

Click on image for larger view.

You can find images of interest within the ARAS archive in many ways.  Just as in Google, you can search through the archive on any word or phrase.  Each search generates a set of image thumbnails and short descriptions to let you review quickly which images you wish to study more.

From one image, your search can easily lead to others.  Many commentaries link you directly to related images.  Images are also typically cataloged by the archetypal themes present in them and you can quickly view other images with those themes.  You can also look at other images from within the same era.

When you search, you also see a cultural timeline, showing where the specific images found are situated across human time and culture.  The timeline also lets you narrow your search to certain periods of most interest.  The sample above shows the timeline generated for "Great Mother."

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Sometimes, a particular image has such rich detail that you will want to see more visual detail.  The ARAS archive lets you zoom in several-fold.  You may also print out images, copy them into PowerPoint presentations, and order 35 mm slides (all subject to non-commercial personal or educational use).
Click on image for larger view.
You can also view all the images associated with a random archetypal theme in an animated image collage.  This lets you enjoy the full richness of the images on their own and discover how many cultures and eras have expressed a common idea in their own ways.

Join ARAS Online to access the entire ARAS archive over the Internet.  Memberships are tax-deductible and can be given as gifts to others.  Through ARAS Online, you will be able to access the entire content of the two magnificent ARAS publications: Archetypal Symbolism and The Body.  These books cost $300 when purchased on their own.

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