Author Topic: Skull Knight and Roses  (Read 1715 times)

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Offline JMP

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Skull Knight and Roses
« on: July 19, 2016, 03:40:51 PM »
Skull Knight is one of the most mysterious and intriguing characters in Berserk. I'm very interested to find out more about him and his past. Skull Knight has a rose and thorns design on his shield as well as thorns present on his sword and armor. So why did Miura choose to use the rose in this character's design? Well, I don't know since I can't ask him.  :slan: What follows is some mythology, beliefs, and symbolism that are associated with the rose that I thought could possibly relate to Skull Knight, but it's all just me speculating since I can't know the source of Miura's inspiration.

There is a lot of mythology from many cultures concerning the rose. Some of the myths I ran into have to do with the rose as a symbol of immortal love that transcends death, such as the Greek myth about Aphrodite and her slain lover, Adonis, where the red rose grows from a pool of his spilled blood. A myth I found very interesting was about the Roman goddess of spring and flowers, Flora, and an origin story of the rose. It's said that Flora found a nymph that she was particulary fond of lying dead in her garden and in her grief she beseeched the other gods to help her transform her dead friend into the first rose. Each god imparts a different gift to the rose; Apollo gives life; Bacchus gives nectar; Vertumnus, perfume; Pomona, fruit; and Flora, a crown of petals. It's been brought up before by other members on the forum that a possibility for Skull Knight's current state could be that he died or was close to death and the witch Flora may have intervened to transform him into the being he is now. It would make sense that Flora may have sought the help of the King of the Flower storm and/or other powerful astral entities to do this. I think it would be kind of neat if different entitites had bestowed Skull Knight with some of his various abilities or equipment or had combined their power to aid in creating his current form.

In a source I found that talked about the rose as a symbol in alchemy it had this to say about the meaning of the rose: “In spiritual alchemy, the single red rose represents the mystic center of a person, his or her heart of hearts – one’s true nature. It also represents the process of purification to reveal one’s essence or the inner “pearl beyond price.” Sufi spiritual alchemist Rumi described this idea when he wrote: "In the driest whitest stretch of pain's infinite desert, I lost my sanity and found this rose." ...the red rose represents a special kind of love in which one “melts away” into the beauty of another, and the old identity is surrendered for that of the beloved or a higher identity within oneself. In this sense, the rose is a symbol of complete surrender and permanent transmutation.” These thoughts are interesting to me in relation to Skull Knight because of the aspect of transformation and transcendence mentioned. Whatever happened to make Skull Knight what he is now probably involved a pretty drastic transformation. I wonder how and to what extent it may have affected his personality and perceptions. Another source also mentions the rose's symbolism associated with transformation : “It is a symbol of transmutation - that of taking food from the earth and transmuting it into the beautiful fragrant rose. In ancient Rome, roses were grown in the funerary gardens to symbolize resurrection.”

Another source mentioned how the rose's form has been interpreted symbolically. “Morphologically linked to the circle, since ancient times the rose has been linked to themes of birth and rebirth, and the speed of its withering has made it a symbol of death and the fragility of existence.” This made me think of how Skull Knight must have died to his old form, to be “reborn” so to speak as his new form. Also, it seems like Berserk overall has a theme about how fragile and yet tenacious human life can be. Skull Knight has been responsible for saving many of the current main characters, such as Guts, Casca, Rickert, and Luka, when they were at some of their most vulnerable points and would have died had he not intervened.

The interpretation of the rose in Tarot is : “the rose is considered a symbol of balance. Here the beauty of the rose expresses promise, new beginnings, hope. This beauty is contrasted with its thorns which represents defense, physicality, loss, thoughtlessness. The rose is seen in the major arcana (the first 22 cards of the Tarot deck) as: Magician, Strength, Death and Fool cards. All of these cards hold strong meanings of balance and equilibrium.” I wonder if the use of the rose in Skull Knight's design could have something to do with his character helping to bring balance to the world of Berserk since he is a force that opposes the God Hand and apostles, who seem to very much have the upper hand right now.

The rose's thorns have represented suffering and sacrifice as well as the sins of the fall from paradise. Maybe the use of the thorns with Skull Knight's character could have something to do with Gaiseric's fall from power or the suffering and sacrifice he had to endure to become what he is now. They could have to do with some kind of price he had to pay to become what he is and gain the power he has. I've wondered if maybe Skull Knight was in some way a reverse apostle for lack of a better term; willing to sacrifice himself for what he held most dear rather than sacrifice what he held most dear for himself.

Another thing I came across that I thought was interesting was the rose's use as a sign for secrecy or confidences to be kept, “the rose is also symbolic carrier of secrets or tacit understanding. The term “sub rosa” means under the rose and comes from the practice of Romans hanging roses above meeting tables. Here it was understood that anything said at this table, beneath the hanging roses, was forbidden to be repeated elsewhere.” Mainly I just thought this was cool. The only reason this made me think of Skull Knight is that he has been such a mysterious character so far and hasn't revealed much about himself yet.

Here are references I used:
http://www.whats-your-sign.com/rose-meaning.html
http://alchemyguild.memberlodge.org/page-311919
http://www.swide.com/art-culture/rose-history-symbols-and-meaning-of-the-flower-of-passion/2015/05/10
http://www.inbreath.com/rose1.htm
http://www.ludwigsroses.co.za/literature/the-rose-in-myths-legends/
http://www.sricf-ca.org/paper3.htm
A good sword, even if it rusts and dulls, has good steel that never rusts left over in the wick. That steel's the ultimate steel. Even if it cracks, if you return it to the fire, it's sure to be reborn. - Godot

Offline Delta Phi

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Re: Skull Knight and Roses
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2016, 04:23:44 PM »
It always amazes me how applicable the traits of these flowers are. I find it hard to believe they are mere coincidences, especially with some of the previous topics. Regardless of their validity, it's always fun to read through your posts and wonder.

Offline Walter

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Re: Skull Knight and Roses
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2016, 04:30:35 PM »
Thanks for undertaking the effort of researching all these various symbolic meanings. It's something I was always curious about, but never enough to go out and do the reading on the subject and THEN the laborious task of filtering out the references that clearly don't pertain to Berserk.

While none of these feel like a SLAM DUNK regarding Skull Knight, I can't easily discard them either. A+!  :ubik:

Quote
The rose's thorns have represented suffering and sacrifice as well as the sins of the fall from paradise. Maybe the use of the thorns with Skull Knight's character could have something to do with Gaiseric's fall from power or the suffering and sacrifice he had to endure to become what he is now. They could have to do with some kind of price he had to pay to become what he is and gain the power he has.

This is the theme that I keep coming back to over the years — the symbol of the rose thorns as penance for some past crime or sin that he now bears. An idea most strikingly exhibited by the thorns on the handle of his sword. I can't help but connect the imagery of thorns to the toll of his mysterious past.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Feeblecursedone

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Re: Skull Knight and Roses
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2016, 06:41:00 PM »
I was just wondering the other day about Skull Knight's roses and thorns, but didn't felt like going through too extensive researches the subject so great work!

Since we are already talking about skull knight's symbols and imagery, what about the winged woman portrayed on horse's armour? With those bat wings she almost looks like Slan. Is it just a simple armour ornament or does it actualy hold some meaning? There have been cultures around the world who used to adorn armour with various images of pagan gods and what not, could it be something connected to early begginings of Holy See? No idea, but its interesting.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Skull Knight and Roses
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2016, 07:12:18 PM »
It's some nice research you've done there JMP, although those sources don't seem very academic. Anyway, reading your post prompted me to gather my thoughts about what the rose represents to me.

I see the thorns as a sign of suffering. On his head (where the crown used to be), on his shoulders... He is one who suffers but also makes others suffer, one who drives them away. The thorns on his sword handle are an indication that drawing the blade is meant to bring pain. However it could also be to make him feel something, anything that would evoke his former self, when he still had a body. A reminder, a way to feel alive. I also see the rose as a regal flower, one fitting for a king of kings. As the emblem on his shield, the flower symbolizes that which is precious and fragile, and should be protected by thorns. Lastly, it could be seen as a connexion to elves, if we keep in mind Chich and the King of the Flower Storm. And then there's Flora. A flower is a feminine element, and in my opinion the name Flora was chosen in connexion to SK's rose.

Since we are already talking about skull knight's symbols and imagery, what about the winged woman portrayed on horse's armour? With those bat wings she almost looks like Slan. Is it just a simple armour ornament or does it actualy hold some meaning? There have been cultures around the world who used to adorn armour with various images of pagan gods and what not, could it be something connected to early begginings of Holy See? No idea, but its interesting.

None of those proposed meanings seem likely to me. I think it might very well just be a simple ornament. If she had to represent a character in the story, the only choice I can think of would be Flora. But even then, honestly, I'm not convinced.

Offline JMP

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Re: Skull Knight and Roses
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2016, 01:26:15 PM »
Thanks, y'all!  :SK:

I like your interpretation, Aazealh!
A good sword, even if it rusts and dulls, has good steel that never rusts left over in the wick. That steel's the ultimate steel. Even if it cracks, if you return it to the fire, it's sure to be reborn. - Godot