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Seven Crystal Balls: Meaning of the star and the bat symbol?

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Palindrome
Member
#1 · Posted: 7 May 2005 03:56
I may just be over analysing, but I think Hergé left some hidden messages of some sort in his books.
I was reading The Seven Crystal Balls today, and on page 16, when Captain Haddock comes on to the stage wearing the bull's head while Bruno the master magician is changing the water to wine, there's a symbol on the back wall. It's the Star of David with a bat and a question mark over it.
Does anyone know what this means, or am I just looking in to it too much?
Tintinrulz
Member
#2 · Posted: 7 May 2005 11:28
I thought it was meant to be a pagan symbol, but then realised it was possibly just a symbol that was made to look magical and mysterious; attributes of a stage magician.
edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#3 · Posted: 7 May 2005 14:51
This symbol was added to the story by Edgar Pierre Jacobs when the book was first published in colour after the war. It does not appear in the original Le Soir version. Hergé received some criticism for supposedly "defacing" the Star of David, despite the fact that the hexagram appears to have had mystical and magical assocations even before its adoption by Judaism.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_of_david for more information.

Ed
Karaboudjan
Member
#4 · Posted: 8 May 2005 14:02 · Edited by: Karaboudjan
Yes- my girlfriend (who is Jewish) had something of an issue with this picture. But then she believes the stories to be anti-Semitic anyway, however much I try to persuade her otherwise.
jock123
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 9 May 2005 13:08 · Edited by: jock123
The hexagram - the six pointed star - has been used as an alchemical device since at least the Middle Ages: the upward pointing triangle supposedly representing water, the downward one fire (I suppose that the combination must be interpreted as the alchemist’s symbol for “luke-warm water”…).

It is not unique to Jewish culture, and in combination with the bat, I am sure that E.P. Jacobs was purely evoking a sense of the magical.

The pentagram (the five-pointed star) has in the past been used as a device in paganism, witchcraft and Christianity (linked with the five wounds of the Crucifixion). As Ed says, these devices have a long history, pre-dating our current uses, probably because they are simple to draw; I’m sure that many of us since we were children have drawn five- and six-pointed stars to represent a night sky, without any other intention than the obvious one.

Addendum - I found information saying that the alchemist’s use defined above is similar to the use in Hinduism, where the pentagram or “Shatkona” is the combination of the “Shiva kona”, symbol of the god Shiva, (and the element of fire), and the “Shakti kona”(water).
Jyrki21
Member
#6 · Posted: 12 May 2005 02:47
Karaboudjan: Yes- my girlfriend (who is Jewish) had something of an issue with this picture. But then she believes the stories to be anti-Semitic anyway, however much I try to persuade her otherwise.

For what it's worth, I am both Jewish and a relatively vocal advocate for my people, and I have absolutely no problem with the symbol, or Hergé's stories in general. I have been minorly critical of his lapsing into stereotypes once or twice (the Shooting Star is most famous, but the shopkeeper in Broken Ear is probably the most obvious example), but I don't think there was ever anything malicious about it.
Karaboudjan
Member
#7 · Posted: 12 May 2005 16:41 · Edited by: Karaboudjan
I have been minorly critical of his lapsing into stereotypes once or twice (the Shooting Star is most famous, but the shopkeeper in Broken Ear is probably the most obvious example),

While I remember Bohlwinkel (who could possibly forget?), I can't remember a Jewish shopkeeper in The Broken Ear. Who do you mean?

... My mate Ali insists that Rastapopoulos is meant to be Jewish but I can't see it myself. I always assumed he was Greek American, and his 'big cigar' ethos is just part of his image as a vain movie mogul.
edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#8 · Posted: 12 May 2005 17:08
While I remember Bohlwinkel (who could possibly forget?), I can't remember a Jewish shopkeeper in The Broken Ear. Who do you mean?

It's the one on page 57 - with the little beard, hooked nose and clasped hands. In the English editions he doesn't have an accent, which just enforces the caricature in the French version: "Ah, voui, les teux bétits védiches... Qui me les a brogurés?..."

Ed
edcharlesadams
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#9 · Posted: 13 May 2005 00:01
I recall something about Edgar Pierre Jacobs drawing the new background somewhere in Chronologie d'une Oeuvre vol.5. As I don't have my copy with me I'll leave it to someone else to look it up... It'll be sometime after January 1944.

Ed
snafu
Member
#10 · Posted: 13 May 2005 03:42
Many people seem to like anything exotic, and the Star of David was certainly something not in their truly known worlds (true, people might have often interacted with Jews, but they all too frequently developed prejudices against them because most Europeans didn't make much of an effort to learn more about Judaism and instead settled on mostly anti-Semitic secondary reports.). Exoticism is pervasive throughout the Tintin books (foreign locations) and in society as a whole (look how popular hookahs are becoming among western college students today, or how Asians are trying to imitate Occidental pop culture...I'm Chinese-American [To be precise: An ABC--American-Born Chinese : ) ] who grew up in a more traditional household, so I saw developments in both the Eastern and Western worlds).

Yes, some Hergé-drawn images suggest or reflect anti-Semitic attitudes coming either from him or from society, but I don't think those views play out here, especially since The Seven Crystal Balls was made after WWII, when anti-Semitism was far less appropriate in Western Europe than it was before the war. I think that Hergé wanted something exotic (I wouldn't use a Star of David to convey that image, though) because it was a magic show, which naturally deals with the out-of-world, mystical realm.

Why is Tibetan, not Chinese, Buddhism more widely-embraced among Westerners?
I heard that Tibetan Buddhism is by far more mystical than Chinese Buddhism, which is merely not materialist...

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