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Discussion Starter #1
Here's something I posted on another alfa forum site:

I'm curious about the origin(s) of the Alfa Romeo symbol and what it means, specifically the serpent or 'Biscione', which apparently dates back to the House of Visconti, and is now also the symbol for the city of Milan. What can you tell me about the history of the badge and the meaning behind the Biscione? There seems to be some confusion as to whether the serpent is devouring or giving birth to a child... which is it?

(please don't quote wiki, I'm after a reference with a bit more authority!)
 

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Il biscione

Hi

Here is a first answer for you

The Biscione (Italian for ‘large snake’), also known as the Vipera (‘viper’ or in Milanese as the Bissa), is a heraldic charge showing in Argent an Azure serpent in the act of giving birth to a human: usually a child and sometimes described as a Moor. It has been the emblem of the Italian Visconti family for around a thousand years. Its origins are unknown. However it has been claimed that it was taken from the coat of arms of a Saracen killed by Ottone Visconti during the crusades.

The biscione appears also in the coats of arms of the House of Sforza, the city of Milan, the historical Duchy of Milan and Insubria. It is also used as a symbol or logo by the football club Inter Milan, by Alfa Romeo and, in a version where a flower replaces the child, by Fininvest
 

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Another version taken from a website:

"The Biscione (grass snake), symbol of Visconti family (and then of other Milan prides such Alfa Romeo or Inter Football Club) comes from Longobard totem: the blue drake meaning power, loyalty, surveillance and the man in its jaws represents Visconti’s enemies that the snake is always ready to destroy.

There are some traditions on the origins of Visconti insignia: one says that Ottone Visconti, the founder of the family, at the first Crusade killed a Saracen warrior and so took his arms which had drawn on a snake eating a man. An other reports that in the lake Gerundo, near Milan, now disappeared, lived the drake Tarantasio, an enormous snake that ate children and with its venomous breath polluted the water and made men ill; Ottone Visconti killed the drake and took as his coats of arms the snake eating the child"
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys for the responses, quite interesting what you found Damo - what website did you find that from? I imagine that most websites simply copy from other websites - I've read almost identical scripts on various websites. It seems to appear more often than not that the serpent is devouring a person rather than giving birth. I haven't found a good reference to confirm the giving birth part. There's even a website that goes on to try and link the design back to Mayan history... When I get a good bunch of info from reliable sources together (perhaps a visit to the library too), I'll put the history up!
In the meantime, please keep posting your collective knowledge!
 

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I know this is an old thread but im sure its originally Aztec, not Myan but its likely correct with its origin and basis (meso america). Since the serpent eating a man/regurgitating a man has often been associated with the symbolism of life and death.

Its a very interesting badge and i think Alfa are a little hush hush about it because its not exactly 'publicly friendly' for their image !! But if you look at the ancient Aztec art theres alot of one of their 'God' eating people in serpeant form. But again alot of ancient civilisations associated life and death as part of one cycle - therefore all inter-connected.

The only reason i know some of the basics is because i read around, as i was thinking of getting an ancient Aztec style tattoo. But i fear we will never know the real history and meaning as its either lost or 1 well kept secret :)
 

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If the story about the First Crusade (1098-1099) is true then it is unlikely to have come from the Aztecs (who were not encountered by Europeans until well after 1492).

In fact, the coin in my avatar dates from before 1492.
 

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im sure its originally Aztec, not Myan but its likely correct with its origin and basis (meso america). Since the serpent eating a man/regurgitating a man has often been associated with the symbolism of life and death.
I seriously doubt the Biscione, in use since the time of Ottone Visconti (1207-1295), would have been based on a symbol of the Aztec culture not discovered by Europeans until 1519.

 

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Most assuredly is not Aztec or Mayan. It has long been associated with the Visconti family.
 

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Thats an impressively old coin !!

But in theory, i totally agree with what you say but around 3000 years ago (off the top of my head so could be way out!) didnt very similar pyramids start popping up ALL over the world ??? Creation epics that were never whisper to another civilisation - with remarkable similarities yet thousands of miles apart ?

Not trying to say 'i was right' but more so when it comes to the past - you cant take modern 'history' as law. Way too many holes and missing information... ?
 

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I didn't think they came until the 1950s
 

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I know thats not true, you only need look at George Bush, Hilary Clinton and a bunch of other US congressman to see theres plenty around lol im sorry but i refuse to believe their human...
 

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Il Biscione a Castello Visconti in Somma Lombardo

In Somma Lombardo, very near the Malpensa Airport. If you are an "Alfisto" and fly into or out of MXP near the weekend, the castle is open for tours on weekends and holidays.

See: Castello Visconti di San Vito - arte e cultura in Lombardia

Photos are not allowed inside the castle rooms but here are a few I took in the outside areas and courtyards. There are hundreds of rooms but you only get to see dozens of them. There are amazing historical artifacts ... and dozens (or hundreds?) of additional representations of "il biscione" to be found.
 

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Just noticed the man getting eaten today, on my wheel badges. Did a search and found this thread that explains more than I expected. I was thinking 'Alfa humor'
 

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Revelation 12 "...And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. "

Like most obscure references and heraldic imagery it is based in celestial prophesy/story telling and passing 'secrets' down over time in oral fables & imagery.

This link shows something very similar once you realise the winged creature is a demon and not an angel (the creature is covered in eyes). https pbs.twimg.com/media/CHOlEzKW4AAvOln.jpg

This medallion was presented by the Pope to Barack Obama - the meaning of this imagery is rather obvious.
 
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