Peace Sign – Part 1


the anti-nuclear emblem or the peace sign is one of the most widely known symbols in the was invented on the request of lord Bertrand Russell,head of the British ‘campaign for nuclear disarmament’or CDN and sponsor of mass marches and sit-downs in London . the graphic symbol was designed by Gerald Haltom, a member of the CND movement, as the badge of the ’direct action committee against nuclear war’, for the first demonstration against Aldermaston (a British research center for the development of nuclear weapons) in 1958. Haltom, a professional designer and a graduate of the London royal college of arts, had originally considered using the Christian cross symbol within a circle as the motif for the march, but various priests he had approached with the suggestion were not happy at the idea of using the cross on a protest march.

the letters N and D of the navy code of semaphore, the flag signalling system.

the first badges were made by eric austin of kensington CND, using white clay with the symbol painted black. again there was a conscious symbolism. they were distributed with a note explaining that in the event of a nuclear war, these fired pottery badges would be among the few human artifacts to survive the nuclear inferno.

From a design point of view, it is interesting to note that the original sketches are preserved at the school of peace studies, at the Bradford University .They show a symbol that stood for ‘the death of man and the unborn child’ and that symbol was designedfrom the naval code of semaphore – the code letters for N and D (nuclear disarmament).N is two flags, arms down stretched at a forty-five degree angle, and D is two flags, one arm straight up and one straight down. the ends of the ‘arms’ and ‘legs’ thicken and splay out noticeably as they approach the circumference.the circle itself was thick – the thickening itself has two versions:in one, all the straight strokes are thickened;in the other, only those in the lower half of the is said, that the reason for the symbol being upside down (D over N) is that semaphore is a military code and upside down ymbolizes ‘anti-military’.

The symbol was quickly adopted in the US when a friend of martin Luther king jr., Bayard Rustin began using it during civil rights marches. The power of this symbol is emphasized by the fact that various far-right and fundamentalist American groups, during the 1970s, seriously onsidered

forbidding it (they have spread the idea of satanic associations andcondemned it as a communist sign). in south Africa , under the apartheid regime, there was an official attempt to ban it. Also anti-Vietnam war protesters picked it up, and it was called ’the footprint of the great American chicken’ by many American soldiers during the Vietnam War era.

Deliberately never copyrighted, the symbol is still recognized in Great Britain as the logo for nuclear disarmament, but is known worldwide for peace and non-violence.No one has to pay or to seek permission before they use it.As a symbol of freedom, it is free for all. This of course sometimes leads to its use,or misuse, in circumstances that CND and the peace movement find distasteful. it is also often exploited for commercial, advertising or generally fashion purposes.‘We can’t stop this happening and have nointention ofcopyrighting it. All we can do is to ask commercial users if they would like to make a donation. Anymoney received is used for CND’s peace education and information work.’says the campaign for nuclear disarmament website

There have been claims that the symbol has older, occult or anti-Christian associations and that it was a ‘symbol of death’. This fifth century illustration depicts st.peter crucified upside-down. The inverted crucifix was known for centuries as the’ Nero cross’ from the roman reign of the emperor

Nero (54-68 A.D.) In the middle ages the ‘Nero cross’ was adapted in Satanists rituals.


one of the most recognized symbols of peace is the dove. Its origins are from the story of Noah and the ark.When the rains that flooded the earth stopped pouring down, Noah sent out various birds to see if they would bring back any sign of land to his boat.He was anxious to begin life again on dry
pasturage.One dove eventually returned carrying an olive branch.

Manifesto by pablo picasso, 1949

After world war II Pablo Picasso, was responsible for the decisive use of the dove of peace: his lithograph designed for the international peace congress in Paris ,1949, features the white ancestor of a new family of doves. Since then, graphic artists have produced an endless series of doves of peace in different shapes.