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Secret Sybolism

Or "What Miyamato doesn't want you to know"
By Toasty64

    Right, any Mario nutter worth his or her salt knows the mildly amusing tale of how Mario's character design came about more or less by accident. You know what I mean, Mario was given a moustache because it was too hard to draw a mouth back in the days of Donkey Kong, and a cap because hair was too tricky to do as well, and so on.

    The funny thing is, due to pure coincidence, Mario's appearance holds quite a few strange and obscure religious symbolics. I must make it perfectly clear that this "symbolism" is nothing but complete coincidence. I'm quite sure that Miyamoto-sama was not thinking of stuffing Mario with symbollic references when he created him (that's more of a CLAMP approach at chara design), and so please do not start to think of Mario as some kind of Messiah in disguise after reading this text. All of the symbollism that one can read into Mario's appearance is nothing but an amusingly bizarre chance occurrence.

    Now that that's settled, here's a rundown of the symbollism I found for Mario:

    First off: He wears red.

    This colour is often considered as a symbol of life. Red is the sun that warms the earth, the warm blood that flows in the veins of every living creature , and so on. In alchemy, red is considered as a symbol of regeneration. Red is also seen as a symbol of strength in many cases. So far, this seems to fit in quite well with Mario.

    It gets weirder, though. Part of Mario's outfit is blue as well. The thing is, the colour blue is often the counterpart of red. Whereas red is the symbol of warmth, blue stands for coldness and for immateriality. Well, there are about a million different interpretations for this colour scheme of Mario, best leave you with the fun of sorting them out for yourselves. That said, if you do want to blab on for hours about what this could mean, drop me a line at

    Numero dos: The gloves.

    Mario is always wearing gloves, in every single game. Never once have I seen him without his gloves. Of course, the reason behind this is that hands were too hard to draw for the old DK arcade game, and that the gloves add to Mario's "cartoony" look, but once again, one can read something into this part of Mario's dress-code.

    In several religions, white gloves are a symbol of purity. One wearing gloves (especially white ones) can only transmit a pure and beneficient magnetism, and avoids contact with impure matters. I think this belief is especially strong in franc-maconry, but I'm not too sure. Note that princess Peach and Luigi both wear white gloves all the time as well. Same thing goes to Wario, who sees his gloves emblazones with a W. Of course, this symbollism is particularly feeble, as there are thousands of gloved characters out there (The Sailor Senshi wear long, white gloves, for example) and it really doesn't have to mean anything, but it's an involuntary symbollism nonetheless.

    Then the really good one: His cap

    Again in the beliefs of franc-marcony, wearing hats has a large symbolic meaning. A hat stands for thought, but also symbolises ones responsabilities and the role one takes upon oneself (sort of fits in with Mario's role of hero). Furthermore, a particularly high hat can be seen as a "receiver" for celestial waves, which establishes a link between a person and the heavens. Add to that the fact that Mario's cap is red, and that it sprouts wings in SM64, and the whole thing sort of hangs together (he also uses different caps to transfrom in SM64 and a few other of his transformations are based around a change in his cap). Wario uses the same concept for his transformations in Wario Land (and in the VB version). Once again, this really means nothing, as many other characters, such as Link go about wearing hats all the time. No Pocket Monsters fan is going to think Satoshi is really an angel in disguise because he's always wearing a baseball cap, right?

    Then there's the fire flowers. This one actually does make sense. In many beliefs, especially Japanese (and Mario is a Japanese creation, after all), the flower is seen as a symbol of perfection and balanced harmony. So, when Mario is transformed into a more powerful or more "accomplished" version of himself upon contact with a flower, it makes sense somehow. Note that in Chinese myths, the sunflower is considered as a source of immortality. Sunflower - fire flower, geddit? And of course, there's countless colour-based symbollisms to be read into Mario's white-and-red "fiery" outfit.

    No doubt there are quite a few other freaky symbolic coincidence in the Mario universe, but since none of this really hangs together, I'll stop there. It's probably better that you forget all of this nonsense, or remember it as just a funny quirk in the Mario universe. Because it really is nothing more than that.

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