Many Christians may recognize a familiar fish symbol on bumper stickers and religious jewelry. Known as the “ichthus” or “ichthys,” this symbol has a rich and interesting history.
What Is the Ichthus?
The ichthus symbol consists of two arches that intersect on one end, creating a fish shape. It is often called the “Jesus fish” or the “sign of the fish.” It dates back to the 2nd century in Christian symbology. It may have been derived from other popular fish images of the day, representing certain gods and goddesses and being seen as both a taboo and sacred food.
The Greek spelling of icthys also has mnemonic meaning. The letters represent important Christian words, including Jesus, anointed, son, and Savior.
How Did Christians Use the Ichthus?
There are many thematic uses of the fish in the Bible. Jesus fed the 5,000 with fish. Many of the Apostles were fishermen, and Christ filled their nets. He even told them to be fishers of men.
The fish symbol was also an easy way to avoid the intense persecution of Christians from the Roman empire. One legend states if a Christian drew an arch in the sand and if the stranger completed the ichthus symbol by drawing the arch, they would know they were both Christians and were in good company. Most often, the ichthus marked meeting places and tombs, being chiseled into stone.
Modern Ichthus Jewelry
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the ichthus symbol became popular as a modern representation of Christianity. However, it is now available on multiple products and recognized worldwide. There are necklaces, dog tags, bracelets, rings, earrings, and more. You can see our entire collection of ichthus themed jewelry here.