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Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci on the geometry of the "Flower of Life"
(Codex Atlanticus folio 309v)

2019 is the year dedicated to one of the most famous and brilliant figures in Renaissance history: Leonardo Da Vinci.

At the ASD Insubria Antiqua, in the province of Varese, this year's partner of the Festival, we assigned the role of curating an article through its president, dott. Cristiano Brandolini, in which he explains the connection between the Celts and Leonardo.

The well-known symbol known as "Rosa Celtica", or "Fiore Celtico", or "Fiore delle Alpi", or "Fruit of Life" but better known as "Sole dei Celti", was associated by Dr. Brandolini to our ancient ancestors, assuming that perhaps thanks to Leonardo's studies, this ancient symbol has been widely disseminated to the people and that it has consequently become a widespread symbol in material culture, throughout the Alps and northern Italy.

This, thanks to research on the Renaissance period and Leonardo, carried out on a historical document called Codex Atlanticus, on which the Flower of Life is divulged through drawings by the great Master.

Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci on the geometry of the "Flower of Life"
(Codex Atlanticus folio 309v)

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Sun of the Alps, from the Celts to Leonardo

by Cristiano Brandolini


A symbol of ancient origin common to all the Celtic people,

from the Iron Age to recent times


Carolingian pink, Celtic rose, rosette, flower of the Alps: these are just some of the names attributed to the ancient geometric symbol more generally known as "Sole delle Alpi". Graphically it consists of six rays arranged inside a circle whose radius provides the cadence of the entire construction, which develops on a hexagonal symmetry forming a figure similar to a flower with six petals. Its meaning is well expressed by its most widespread name "Sun", ie it is a solar sign.

In human history, the sun has always been represented with multiple forms, more or less elaborate.

The Sun of the Alps is certainly the most widespread solar symbol in the Alpine arc and in the Ligurian Apennines. Its connection with the Celtic world is symbolic, geometric (the construction in successive circles is typical of interwoven Celtic geometries) and is documented by numerous archaeological presences. The geometric base of the Sun of the Alps is linked to the wheel and to the rotation, which symbolizes the world of "becoming" and of continuous creation around a immobile center.

Some scholars say that it came to us through the Chaldeans (India), and that this symbolism then passed into the Middle and Near East and then into Europe. The symbol appears on Messapian and Etruscan tombstones from the 7th century BC The presence of the solar symbol is also attested in the Peligno sanctuary of Ercole Curino on Monte Morrone near Sulmona (1st century BC), where it is depicted in the floor as a sacred symbol, and on the cinerary stone urn from an Etruscan tomb of Civitella Paganico ( Gr) dating from the seventh century BC

But the representations of solar wheels, suns of the Alps and triskel are widespread throughout the Alps and for a very long period of time, from the pre-protohistoric period to the Iron Age, from Valcamonica to the Celtic-Ligurian areas. An example is the famous and ancient "rosa camuna", found 92 times among the 300,000 rock carvings of Valcamonica, often associated with warriors who seem to dance around and whose meaning is still a source of debate.

A crucial step in this process is the Celts. As is known, the sun for the Celts was mythologized in the god Lug (the luminous), whose image is found at the origin of all the suns represented as human faces surrounded by rays, common in the iconography of the entire Alpine area.

The custom of representing this symbol, above all on funerary steles, continues even in Roman and Lombard times.

With the advent of Christianity the "pagan" symbol of the sun of the Alps, strongly rooted in culture and popular traditions, does not fade but persists, changing its original meaning and adapting to the principles of the new religion. In addition to the aforementioned Chrismon - the monogram of Christ -, it therefore also assumes the meaning of "wheel of life" and "wheel of fortune".

His fortune continues throughout the Middle Ages and continues uninterrupted until today.

Even Leonardo da Vinci studied the figure of the "Flower of Life" and its mathematical properties. Leonardo designed geometric figures such as the Platonic solids, the sphere, and a torus, in addition to the golden section, each of which can be derived from the model of the "Flower of Life" or "Sun of the Alps".

His studies are contained in the Codex Atralticus manuscript (preserved in the Ambrosian Library in Milan), which is the largest collection of Leonardo's drawings and writings.

The sheets, assembled in the collection without a specific order, cover a long period of Leonardo studies, and more precisely the forty-year period from 1478 to 1519. It contains various topics including anatomy, astronomy, botany, chemistry, geography, mathematics, mechanics , drawings of machines, studies on the flight of birds and architectural projects. Inside there are 1751 drawings, all by Leonardo.

The Sun of the Alps, from the Celts to Leonardo da Vinci, and so on to the present day. From the analyzes and studies carried out and from the strong territorial iconographic presence, it can undoubtedly be affirmed that the Sun of the Alps is the most widespread sign in the whole Alpine arc and in the northern territories of our Peninsula, in that popular peasant culture, mountain and artisan that it is still well rooted and rich and represents the strongest and most vital connective tissue in the country.


by Cristiano Brandolini

Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci on the geometry of the "Flower of Life" (Codex Atlanticus folio 459r)


Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci on the geometry of the "Flower of Life" (Codex Atlanticus folio 459r)

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Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci on the geometry of the "Flower of Life" (Codex Atlanticus folio 459r)

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