Unicode is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard is mai ...
contains a number of characters that represent various
Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in ...
, political symbolism, political, and religious symbol, religious symbols.
Most, but not all, of these symbols are in the Miscellaneous Symbols block.
The majority of them are treated as symbol, graphic symbols that are not Character (computing), characters.
Exceptions to this include characters in certain writing systems that are also in use as political or religious symbols, such as 卐 (U+5350), the swastika encoded as a Chinese characters, Chinese character (although it is also encoded as a religious symbol at U+0FD5);
or ॐ (U+0950), the Om symbol which is, strictly speaking, a Devanagari ligature.
A special case is ﷲ
(U+FDF2), which is a special ligature of Arabic script used only for writing of the word ''Allah''. This ligature is in the Arabic Presentation Forms-A block, which was only encoded for compatibility and is not recommended for use in regular Arabic text.
Unicode defines the semantics of a character by its character identity and its Unicode character property, ''normative properties'', one of these being the character's ''general category'', given as a two-letter code (e.g. ''Lu'' for "uppercase letter").
Characters that fall in the "political or religious" category are given the "general category" ''So'', which is the catch-all category for "Symbol, other", i.e. anything considered a "symbol" which does not fall in any of the three other categories of
''Sm'' (mathematical symbols), ''Sc'' (currency symbols) or ''Sk'' (phonetic modifier symbols, i.e. International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA signs not considered letters).
The Unicode chart for the Armenian (Unicode block), Armenian block notes two religious symbols:
The Dingbats block also contains some symbols with political/religious connotations:
Geometric Shapes Extended
Other weights of the Greek cross are in Geometric Shapes Extended.
Enclosed Ideographic Supplement block
The Unicode chart for the Enclosed Ideographic Supplement, Enclosed Ideographic Supplement block notes several symbols used for Chinese folk religion:
Miscellaneous Symbols block
The Unicode chart for the Miscellaneous Symbols block has a section explicitly labelled "Religious and political symbols":
Elsewhere in the block is:
The emoji variants have Variation Selectors (Unicode block), U+FE0F after the symbol.
Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs block
The Unicode chart for the Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs, Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs block notes many religious symbols:
Ostensibly religious symbols are, however, not limited to this section, as the same chart has another short section of two characters labelled "Syriac cross symbols", with the explanatory gloss "These symbols are used in liturgical texts of Syriac-speaking churches".
Another short section of two symbols is headed "Medical and healing symbols", including U+2624 ☤ Caduceus (c.f. U+1F750 🝐 "alchemical symbol for caduceus"), U+2695 ⚕ Staff of Aesculapius, and U+2625 ☥ Ankh, all of which originate in polytheistic religious traditions.
The Unicode chart for the Tibetan (Unicode block), Tibetan block notes several religious symbols:
Religious symbols, Unicode
Political symbols, Unicode