Chapter 11. Trades and professions

White Rabbit

During the Song Dynasty, the White Rabbit brand of sewing needles was easily recognized and signified good luck.

Rod of Asclepius

This staff entwined by a snake were associated with Greek god Asclepius, god of healing and medicine. Asclepius is said to have learned healing from snakes, which the Greeks associated with wisdom, healing, and resurrection.

Barber’s pole

Medieval barbers pulled teeth, set bones, and let blood. Their sign derived from the staff their patients squeezed to encourage blood flow, a pole with a red helix signifying flowing blood.


Three spheres suspended from a bar, based on the legend that “a Medici employed by Charlemagne slew a giant using three bags of rocks,” signifies a pawnshop.

Pub signs

Vintners and pubs hung a sign with a bunch of ivy or “bush” tied to the end of a pole as a symbol of their offerings, since ivy was sacred to Bacchus. They say, “A good wine needs no bush,” which means the provider doesn’t need
 to boast about it, or to beat around the bush.