Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rosa dei Venti

This compass rose "Rosa dei Venti" is a representation of the early compass with both cardinal points and winds demarcated. The earliest examples go back to Ancient China but it are very common in Italy. Perhaps the one most familiar would be that in St Peter's Square, although that is fairly recent at 1892. My research indicates that the design and name has also been used by secret societies including a group of neo fascists sponsored by the Mafia. The story is missing a few details even now, but the bones of the matter are that the Borghese, a fascist group, together with the secret Rosa dei Venti, planned to overthrow the Italian government in 1970. They derived their name ironically from Bologna, which the fascists hated for its proud political tradition. Many played a part in thwarting the fascist golpe, but interestingly for the name and image, heavy rain played a small role in the whole affair. You just can't trust the weather. Bob Dylan just might have said that "you don't need a weatherman to know the way the wind blows". Prudence, justice, temperance and truth, traditional symbolic iconography of the compass, are antithetical to these forces of darkness. The affair still remains shrouded in mystery, the complete truth unknown. But the compass is associated with the cycle of existence - in that no matter how far you travel, you will always return to your point of departure. The compass rose, Rosa dei Venti, suggests to me that seekers after social justice will inevitably prevail.