A triskelion or triskele is a motif consisting of a triple spiral exhibiting rotational symmetry. The spiral design can be based on interlocking Archimedean spirals, or represent three bent human legs.

Both terms are from Greek "τρισκέλιον" (triskelion) or "τρισκελής" (triskeles), "three-legged",[1] from prefix "τρι-" (tri-), "three times"[2] + "σκέλος" (skelos), "leg".[3]

A triskelion is a traditional symbol of Sicily, where it is called trinacria;[4] the Isle of Man,[5] where it is known in Manx as Tree Cassyn Vannin, and Brittany where it is known as Triskèle. Ingushetia also has a (stylised) triskelion in its flag.

Triskel type Amfreville
Triskele of the Amfreville Gaulish helmet.
6257 - Archaeological Museum, Athens - Gold cup from Mycenae - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 10 2009
Gold cup from Mycenae decorated with triskelions, in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age use in Europe

Ancient greek beaked jug decorated with triple spirals
Ancient Greek beaked jug decorated with triple spirals
Rijnkelten, electrum regenboogschoteltje or rainbow cup
Rhine Celts, electrum 'regenboogschoteltje' or rainbow cup with triskele
Triskel-triskele-triquetre-triscel VAN DEN HENDE ALAIN CC-BY-SA-40 0718 PDP BG 007
Triskèle Saint-Marcellin (in Isère / France)
Eglise Saint-Antoine-l'Abbaye by night 38160 PA38000020 VAN DEN HENDE ALAIN CC -BY-SA 4 0 050206
Abbatial church of Saint-Antoine-l'Abbaye with a group of 3 triskelions (in Isère / France)
Triskel et Biskel - Saint Antoine l Abbaye - Alain Van den Hende 17071627 Licence CC40
On the front of Abbatial church of Saint-Antoine-l'Abbaye with 2 groups of 2 triskelions and 1 biskel (in Isère / France)
Sicilian Flag
The flag of Sicily, featuring the triskelion symbol and the Gorgon
Flag of the Isle of Mann
The flag of the Isle of Man, is composed solely of a triskele against a red background

The triskelion symbol appears in many early cultures, the first in Malta (4400–3600 BCE) and in the astronomical calendar at the famous megalithic tomb of Newgrange in Ireland built around 3200 BCE,[6] Mycenaean vessels, on coinage in Lycia, and on staters of Pamphylia (at Aspendos, 370–333 BCE) and Pisidia. It appears as a heraldic emblem on warriors' shields depicted on Greek pottery.[7]

The triskelion is an ancient symbol of Sicily, with the head of the Gorgon, with snakes as hair, from which radiate three legs bent at the knee.[8] The symbol dates back to when Sicily was part of Magna Graecia, the colonial extension of Greece beyond the Aegean.[9] Pliny the Elder attributes the origin of the triskelion of Sicily to the triangular form of the island, the ancient Trinacria (from the Greek tri- (three) and ἄκρα akra (end, peak, citadel), which consists of three large capes equidistant from each other, pointing in their respective directions, the names of which were Pelorus, Pachynus, and Lilybæum.

The Celtic symbol of three conjoined spirals may have had triple significance similar to the imagery that lies behind the triskelion. The triple spiral motif is a Neolithic symbol in Western Europe. Though popularly considered a "Celtic" symbol, it is in fact a pre-Celtic symbol.[10] It is carved into the rock of a stone lozenge near the main entrance of the prehistoric Newgrange monument in County Meath, Ireland. Newgrange, which was built around 3200 BCE,[6] predates the Celtic arrival in Ireland, but has long since been incorporated into Celtic culture. The symbol is also found carved in rock in Castro Culture settlement in modern-day Galicia and Northern Portugal. In Ireland before the 5th century, in Celtic Christianity the triskele took on new meaning, as a symbol of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and therefore also a symbol of eternity. Its popularity continues today as a decorative symbol of faith for Christians of Celtic descent around the world.

Modern usage

A triskelion is featured on the seal of the United States Department of Transportation.[11]

A triskelion shape is the basis for the roundel of the Irish Air Corps,[12] and the logo for the Trisquel Linux distribution.

A triskelion shape was used in the design of RCA's "Spider" 45 rpm adapter, a popular plastic adapter for vinyl records, which allows larger center-holed 45 rpm records (commonly used on 7" singles and EPs) to spin on players designed for smaller center-holed 33-1/3 rpm records (the standard for 10" and 12" LPs). The design was practical, the three curved arms providing equal spring and thus keeping the hole centred. The iconic design of the Spider has led to its adoption as a popular symbol for record and music enthusiasts.[13][14]

One of the most commonly used symbols of the BDSM community is a derivation of a triskelion shape within a circle.[15]

The South African neo-Nazi White supremacist White nationalist organization and political party Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging uses a Triskele composed of three sevens as its symbol in place of the Nazi Swastika.

The Flag of the Isle of Man bears 3 legs based on the Triskele.

The crest of the Breton football club En Avant de Guingamp combines the Flag of Brittany, the team colours and the triple spiral triskelion.

"The Gamesters of Triskelion" is a second-season episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek.

In the Marvel Universe, the intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. uses the Triskelion as its headquarters.

The Triskele is also used as a prominent symbol in MTV's "Teen Wolf (2011 TV Series)" which draws heavily from Celtic mythology. A Triskele was used by some younger betas to keep from shifting & maintain calm. This happens by the beta repeating "Alpha, Beta, Omega" or "The Sun, The Moon, The Truth" over and over again until the beta is calm.

In Merlin (2008 TV series) it was used as symbol of druids.

In anime Nanatsu no Taizai it is used as symbol of goddesses clan.

Reconstructionists and neopagans

The triskele, usually consisting of spirals, but also the "horned triskelion", is used by some polytheistic reconstructionist and neopagan groups. As a Celtic symbol, it is used primarily by groups with a Celtic cultural orientation and, less frequently, can also be found in use by various eclectic or syncretic traditions such as Neopaganism. The spiral triskele is one of the primary symbols of Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism.[16] Celtic Reconstructionists use the symbol to represent a variety of triplicities in their cosmology and theology; it is also a favored symbol due to its association with the god Manannán mac Lir.[16]

Occurrence in nature

The endocytic protein, clathrin, is triskelion-shaped.[17] The Ediacaran fossil Tribrachidium is also triskelion shaped.


2009-03-22 03-29 Sizilien 683 Agrigent, Parco Valle dei Templi Agrigento, Museo Archaeologico

Triskelion of Sicily of the Minoan period (archaeological museum of Agrigento)

Celtic Bronze Disc, Longban Island, Derry

Celtic triskele of three stylized bird heads with whorl in the center


A version of the Neolithic triple spiral symbol


Spiral triskele, found in Celtic artwork, used by Celtic Reconstructionists and occasionally as a Christian Trinity symbol

Triskel type Tonkedeg.

Triskele of church windows

Selection of carvings from the Castro de Santa Trega

Selection of carvings from the Castro de Santa Trega[1] Galicia

BDSM logo

The BDSM community's triskele-type emblem.

Roundel of Ireland

Irish Air Corps roundel. A modern interpretation of the Celtic triskele

Trisquel da Aira Vella, Santo Estevo de Allariz, Allariz

Iron Age Castro culture triskele, reused in a barn. Airavella, Allariz, Galicia

Wappen Fuessen

Coat of Arms of Füssen

Tau Gamma Sigma Emblem

The seal of Tau Gamma Sigma sorority

Stater slinger Aspendos MBA Lyon

Slinger standing left, triskelion to right. Reverse of an ancient Greek silver stater from Aspendos, Pamphylia.

Torque de Santa Tegra 1

Triskelion and spirals on a Galician torc terminal.

Sam Taeguk

The Korean Sam Taegeuk

Three sevens

The emblem of the South African Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging

Mita-Matsuzaka jido yuen 0612090033

A tiled triskelion in a park in Tokyo, Japan.


45 RPM record plastic insert.

Hidari mitsudomoe

A common variant of tomoe, used as a symbol of Shinto god Hachiman and also as the family crest of numerous warrior clans in Japan.


Clathrin triskelion highlighted

Svarozhich symbol red (1)

Red symbol of Svarozhich, used in Rodnovery (Slavic Native Faith).


Antahkarana - computer's radio waves protection

Ingush national solar symbol

Red triskelion found on the flag of Ingushetia

Three Legs of Man - Triskelion

Triskelion found on the Flag of the Isle of Man

Isle of Man TT triskelion

A version of the Three Legs of Man designed to celebrate the Isle of Man TT motorcycle racing event.

Sicily Triskelion

Triskelion of Sicily

Vespro Triskelion

Vespro version of Sicily triskelion

See also


  1. ^ τρισκελής, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  2. ^ τρι- Archived 2012-10-04 at the Wayback Machine, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  3. ^ σκέλος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek–English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  4. ^ Angelo & Mario Grifasi (1999-01-28). "Sicilia: Il Perchè del nome Trinacria". Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  5. ^ "Isle of Man Government". Archived from the original on 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  6. ^ a b "Newgrange Ireland - Megalithic Passage Tomb - World Heritage Site". 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  7. ^ For example, the trislele on Achilles' round shield on an Attic late 6th century BCE hydria at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, illustrated in John Boardman, Jasper Griffin and Oswyn Murray, Greece and the Hellenistic World (Oxford History of the Classical World) vol. I (1988), p. 50.
  8. ^ "Weddings in Sicily Taormina". Archived from the original on 2017-09-16. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  9. ^ Matthews, Jeff (2005) Symbols of Naples Archived 2009-10-30 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Anthony Murphy and Richard Moore, Island of the Setting Sun: In Search of Ireland's Ancient Astronomers, 2nd ed., Dublin: The Liffey Press, 2008, pp. 168–169
  11. ^ Kane, Robert M. (1 January 2019). "Air Transportation". Kendall Hunt – via Google Books.
  12. ^ The Aircraft Encyclopedia by Roy Braybrook, ISBN 0-671-55337-2, p. 51
  13. ^ "We Love Life: Music - 45 RPM Adapters". 2009-11-26. Archived from the original on 2009-12-02. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  14. ^ "Boing Boing: Gadgets - Twenty 45 adapters". 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  15. ^ Luminais, Misty (May 2012). In the Habit of Being Kinky: Practice and Resistance in a BDSM Community, Texas, USA (PDF). Washington State University. p. 121. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  16. ^ a b Bonewits, Isaac (2006) Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York, Kensington Publishing Group ISBN 0-8065-2710-2. p. 132: [Among Celtic Reconstructionists] "...An Thríbhís Mhòr (the great triple spiral) came into common use to refer to the three realms." Also p. 134: [On CRs] "Using Celtic symbols such as triskeles and spirals"
  17. ^
Angelique Pettyjohn

Angelique Pettyjohn (born Dorothy Lee Perrins, March 11, 1943 – February 14, 1992) was an American actress and burlesque queen. She appeared as the drill thrall Shahna in the Star Trek episode, "The Gamesters of Triskelion".


Asturix OS is a discontinued Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It is no longer maintained.

During its lifespan, this Linux distribution received some media exposure and was reviewed by Jon "maddog" Hall's blog at Linux Magazine and the Asturian newspaper La Nueva España.Asturix used a triskelion logo, which is also used by an unrelated Linux distribution, Trisquel.


Clathrin is a protein that plays a major role in the formation of coated vesicles. Clathrin was first isolated and named by Barbara Pearse in 1976. It forms a triskelion shape composed of three clathrin heavy chains and three light chains. When the triskelia interact they form a polyhedral lattice that surrounds the vesicle. This is how clathrin gets its name, from the Latin clathratus meaning like a lattice. Coat-proteins, like clathrin, are used to build small vesicles in order to transport molecules within cells. The endocytosis and exocytosis of vesicles allows cells to communicate, to transfer nutrients, to import signaling receptors, to mediate an immune response after sampling the extracellular world, and to clean up the cell debris left by tissue inflammation. The endocytic pathway can be hijacked by viruses and other pathogens in order to gain entry to the cell during infection.

Flag of Ingushetia

The flag of Ingushetia was adopted in 1994. It shows a red triskelion symbol on a white background, with narrow green horizontal stripes above and below.

Flag of the Isle of Man

The flag of the Isle of Man or flag of Mann (Manx: brattagh Vannin) is a triskelion, composed of three armoured legs with golden spurs, upon a red background. It has been the official flag of Mann since 1 December 1932 and is based on the Manx coat of arms, which dates back to the 13th century. The three legs are known in Manx as ny tree cassyn ("the three legs"). The triskelion is an ancient symbol, used by the Mycenaeans and the Lycians. It is not known for certain why the symbol was originally adopted on the Isle of Man. Before its adoption in 1932, the official flag of the Isle of Man was the Union Jack.

There is also a civil ensign for the Isle of Man. This flag was first authorised on 27 August 1971. Another Manx flag is the flag of Tynwald, the legislature of the Isle of Man, which has flown outside the Legislative Buildings since 1971.


Füssen is a town in Bavaria, Germany, in the district of Ostallgäu, situated 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from the Austrian border. It has a population of 15,558. The town is known for its violinmaking industry, and as the closest transportation hub for the castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Its coat of arms depicts a triskelion.


Hydro-Man (Morris "Morrie" Bench) is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Karja Church

Karja Church (Estonian: Karja kirik) is a medieval Lutheran church located in Linnaka village on Saaremaa island, Estonia. It is the rural church with the richest medieval stone sculpture decoration in all the Baltic states.

Sword of state

A sword of state is a sword, used as part of the regalia, symbolizing the power of a monarch to use the might of the state against its enemies, and his duty to preserve thus right and peace.

It is known to be used in following monarchies:

Reichsschwert of the Holy Roman Empire, see Imperial Sword

Kingdom of Denmark, see Danish crown regalia

Joyeuse, used for the sacre of the king of France. Reputed to be the sword of Charlemagne.

Kingdom of Hungary

Kingdom of Bohemia (Czech Republic) – Sword of Saint Wenceslas

Kingdom of England, later Great Britain, yet later United Kingdom see Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom

Kingdom of the Netherlands, see Dutch Royal Regalia (made in 1840 for enthronements)

Kingdom of Norway, see Regalia of Norway

Kingdom of Scotland, see Honours of Scotland

Kingdom of Sweden, see Swedish Royal Regalia, where it is the oldest of the Vasa regalia

Kingdom of Poland – Szczerbiec, Grunwald Swords, Sigismundus Iustus

Kingdom of Mysore – Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, ending with the Krishnaraja Wodeyar II

Kingdom of Thailand or Siam- the Sword of Victory, one of the five Regalia of Thailand.

The former Kingdom of the Isle of Man (now a British Crown dependency), bearing the triskelion symbol, annually used on Tynwald Day

Empire of Russia, see Regalia of the Russian tsars

The Kingdom of Georgia

Shangfang Baojian (simplified Chinese: 尚方宝剑; traditional Chinese: 尚方寶劍) of Chinese dynasties from Han dynasty to Ming dynasty

The Eodo of Taejo of Joseon Dynasty, Korea

The Sword of Osman, given to Sultans of the Ottoman Empire;

Kusanagi, kept by the Emperor of Japan;

In the former sultanate of the Maldives, being invested on the Monarch in a traditional gong ceremony

Also in the Malay world, notably in

the sultanate of Perak, where it gave the name to a 'national' order of knighthood

Sarawak (on Borneo)By analogy, it can even be used in republics, as in the Senate of the state of South Carolina in the United States of America.

Tau Gamma Phi

Tau Gamma Phi (ΤΓΦ), also known as the Triskelions' Grand Fraternity, is a fraternity established in the Philippines. Its members call themselves Triskelions. Their aims are to see a Fraternity System devoid of violence in lieu of the rampant violence pervading the university campus at the time of its founding, to avoid elitism if they can, and to earnestly propagate their fraternity's principles as their way of life. Based on these goals, the Triskelions categorized their formal group as a 'protest fraternity'. The Fraternity encourages its members to strive for spiritual growth and to organize socio-civic activities for the benefit of communities. Tau Gamma Phi is now one of the largest international fraternities, with about 500,000 registered members worldwide. Its counterpart is called Tau Gamma Sigma (ΤΓΣ) also known as the Triskelions' Grand Sorority.

The Triskelion Alumni Organization (TAO) is the umbrella organization for all its alumni associations worldwide. The TAO has established close-knit enclaves in the United States of America, Canada, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.The Triskelion Radio was set up by capable Triskelions, and it is probably the first ever fraternity and sorority on-line radio station in the Philippines.

Tau Gamma Sigma

Tau Gamma Sigma (ΤΓΣ) also known as the Triskelions' Grand Sorority, is a sorority established in the Philippines. Its members call themselves Lady Triskelions. The Tau Gamma Sigma is the counterpart of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity. It is now one of the largest and most dynamic sororities in the Philippines.

The Gamesters of Triskelion

"The Gamesters of Triskelion" is the sixteenth episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. Written by Margaret Armen and directed by Gene Nelson, it was first broadcast January 5, 1968.

In the episode, Captain Kirk and his companions are abducted into slavery and trained to fight as gladiators for the gambling entertainment of three disembodied beings.

The Ultimates (comic book)

The Ultimates is a thirteen-issue comic book limited series written by Mark Millar with art by Bryan Hitch. The series introduces the superhero team the Ultimates and was published by the Ultimate Marvel imprint of Marvel Comics.


The Greek word Trinacria means "three pointed", from akra, "end, point, peak, headland" plus treis, "three", and is the earliest known name of the island of Sicily, formerly a Greek possession, so named from its triangular shape. Sicily was also later known by the Romans by its Greek name Trinacria. The ancient symbol of Trinacria is the head of Medusa (a gorgon with a head of snakes) overlaying three legs conjoined at the hips and flexed in triangle and three stalks of wheat. The Trinacria symbol has also been adopted by the modern Sicilian government and appears at the center of Sicily's flag. The symbol (without the central Gorgon's head) was adopted as the heraldic device of the Lord of the Isle of Man (located between England, Scotland and Ireland) in the 13th century and appears on the present coat of arms of the Isle of Man.

Triskelion (comics)

The Triskelion is a fictional building used by S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization appearing in comic books published by the American publisher Marvel Comics.

Triskelion Arts

Triskelion Arts is a non-profit arts presenting organization founded in 2000, which includes two theaters and rehearsal studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Triskelion Arts features artists from the concert dance, comedy, improvisation, Butoh and clowning communities, “where young companies can afford to self-produce and where choreographers can take a chance.” [3]In the last five years, Triskelion Arts has presented the work of over 750 artists featuring nearly 3,500 performers through its programs, including companies such as cakeface, Dante Brown/Warehouse Dance, Elisa Monte Dance, Launch Movement Experiment, Peter Kyle Dance, Stefanie Nelson Dancegroup, Tami Stronach Dance, Jessica Gaynor Dance, raja feather kelly | the feath3r theory, Shannon Gillen & Guests, Vangeline Theater, to name a few.

Triton (comics)

Triton is a fictional character, an Inhuman appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Triton made his live action debut in Marvel Cinematic Universe with the television series Inhumans, portrayed by Mike Moh.

Ultimate Six

Ultimate Six is a seven-issue comic book limited series and crossover between Spider-Man and the Ultimates (2003), featuring the Ultimate Marvel version of the Sinister Six. The series was written by Brian Michael Bendis, penciled by Trevor Hairsine and inked by Danny Miki.

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