What’s That Shape? It’s a Quatrefoil.

via Wikipedia

Please tell me you’ve seen this shape. I am seeing it EVERYWHERE right now! Take a look:

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I didn’t realize the extent of its popularity until we began buying home décor. Now we have two rugs and several sets of sheers with this design! And this is probably definitely just the beginning…

My curiosity got the best of me and I began to wonder… Where did it come from? What does it mean? After looking for a good 30 minutes, I was only lead to dead ends. Leave it to my superhero husband to find its name in approximately 30 seconds. It’s called…

Barbed Quatrefoil!

After some intense Wikipedia reading on ancient shapes, the history actually turned out to be more extensive than I thought.


quatre = four + –foil = leaflet           via dictionary.com

barbed quatrefoil is the addition of the “thorns” between the leaves – it’s like they overlay a square on the four-leafed clover

Where did it come from?

The quatrefoil (the daddy of barbed quatrefoil) was born around 700 BCE in Mexico. These are Old Testament days, people!

via Authentic Maya

It became all the rage in the Gothic and Renaissance eras (1100 AD – 1700 AD) and everyone insisted on putting one at the top of every arch.

Quatrefoil 1a
via New Temple in Provo

Our superstar, the barbed quatrefoil, first appeared around 1260 AD in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris! Ooh-la-la.

via Wikipedia Commons

Besides home decor, the quatrefoil can be today found on the cap of a Marine Corp Officer. It was originally put there in 1859 so other marines on deck wouldn’t accidentally shoot them.

via Alfa img

What does it mean?

So many different things. Fortunately, most of them are good.

  • Power
  • Arrival of rain
  • Fertility
  • Passageway to the underworld (OK, that one is a little shady)
  • Good fortune (used by knights – the shining armor type)

All-in-all, it’s pretty neat to see how these ancient designs have lived for  2,500+ years, made their way into our homes, and become so popular in today’s decor. I’m also thankful this shape doesn’t have some horrid origin causing me to get evade it in stores and sell everything I just bought.

Next time you see a quatrefoil, pay homage to its lineage!

Do you have any quatrefoil in your home? Submit a picture of your quatrefoil to hayley@riseandrenovate.com and I’ll post it below!

Shared by The Crew

Barbed quatrefoil cookie cutter & pillow -Sharon Rissler in Louisiana



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3 thoughts on “What’s That Shape? It’s a Quatrefoil.”

  1. Pingback: My Fall Decorating Dilemma, Solved! – Rise and Renovate

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