The triquetra  (greek: triskčeles) is a figure consisting of  a triangle of bended legs, charged with a gorgoneion. It is related to or probably derived from the celtic triskel consisting of three curls turning clockwise or counter-clockwise and symbolizing a cosmic trinity. In the 6th and 5th centuries BC the triquetra appears on greek coins. About 289 BC it is on coins struck in Siracusa and on sicilian pottery. After the roman conquest of Sicily in 241-227 BC it is the emblem of the island, then called Trinacria. [1] In the 16th and 17th centuries AD the triquetra was reintroduced and it was also known by the advisers of Joseph Bonaparte looking for a symbol for Sicily that would not refer to the spanish rule of the island. In the arms adopted 1 December 1806, the emblem is tinctured Argent on a golden field. [2]


Earthenware bowl, 6th century B.C.

Triquetra within a corona.

Museo Archeologico ‘Paolo Orsi’, Syracuse.




Triquetra on a didrachmon

from Athens, ca. 560-545 B.C..

Triquetra on a coin from Magna Graecia,

Syracuse, 317-310 B.C.


on the shield of a Greek warrior

on an Attic vase in the Museo Archeologico Regionale “A. Salinas”, Palermo.


 on a electronstater found in the river Meuse,

About 50 B.C..


on the Manx coat of arms of the middle of the 13th century AD.

Lesser achievement of Joseph Bonaparte for the kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1806).

In base the newly introduced arms of Sicilia-Trinacria: Or, a triquetra Argent.


The triquetra was also adopted as an emblem of the island by the Bourbon king Ferdinand III. The gorgoneion, however, is winged to make a difference with the Bonaparte triquetra.


Doppia Oncia d’Oro, 1814

Struck by King Ferdinand III (I) of Sicily



The emblem in the head of this essay is on a decree of the Sicilian Parliament of 12 September 1848




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© Hubert de Vries 2012-09-17


[1]  Encyclopedia Italiana. 1929: Triscele.

[2]  Colocci-Vespucci, A. : La Trinacria nel simbolismo e nell’araldica. In: Rivista Araldica 19?? pp. 407-408.